Download Manhattan Project to the Santa Fe Institute : the memoirs of by George A. Cowan PDF

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By George A. Cowan

"George Cowan's memoir is an interesting eyewitness account of the way technology works and the way scientists, as humans, paintings besides. In discussing his occupation in nuclear physics from the Nineteen Forties into the Eighties, Cowan talks approximately a few of his assignments in nuclear forensics, together with President Harry Truman's skeptical evaluation of the research of Russia's first atomic bomb try out in 1949. all through his booklet, Cowan weaves in  Read more...

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The need for large quantities of pure uranium was greater than ever, and I was soon sent to the Mallinckrodt Company in St. Louis to help start a production plant that was beginning to extract tons of uranyl nitrate into ether. The nitrate was then converted to uranium oxide. The process was the same as the one I had helped develop at Princeton but on an industrial scale. The plumbing was full of ether fumes that occasionally exploded, sending sheets of fire out of all the sinks. But Jack Kyger, the brilliant young MIT engineer in charge of the project, worked around the clock, solving the startup problems and getting the plant to full capacity within a month.

Six months after the discovery of fission Einstein was visited, first by refugee Hungarian physicists Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner, and later by Szilard and Hungarian physicist Edward Teller. They were concerned that Germany might be well on the way toward developing an atomic bomb. Einstein eventually signed a letter to President Roosevelt concerning the terrible threat to the United States if Germany were to be successful. The letter initially produced minimal funding for research on the design of a chain reaction in a natural uranium pile proposed by Szilard and Enrico Fermi, who had fled Italy because he had a Jewish wife.

If the call was for me, I would have to explain that I wasn’t entertaining Gary Cooper or being interviewed by Walter Winchell. Mark’s work involved extraction of uranyl nitrate into ethyl ether. He recovered the ether on a distillation column, unaware that unstable ether peroxides were building up in his solvent. The column was busily bubbling one afternoon when it exploded with a thundering blast. I unglued myself from a desk seat and tried to pull open the door leading to an outside corridor.

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