In September 1954, Dick Hearn, an ambitious engineer with Ontario Hydro, Canada’s largest electricity utility, made his second trip to England. Ben Lewis, the key Canadian physicist, also came. Accompanying them, or rather ruling over them, were two more senior businessmen, namely Bill Bennett, the president of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, and Geoff Gaherty, head of Montreal Engineering. . .
Animated Lego reconstructs CP-1!
Part of Argonne’s tribute to the first reactor, brought to life by Enrico Fermi on December 2, 1942, is a curio piece. It’s a two-and-a-half-minute Lego animation of that event, titled Chicago Pile-1: A Brick History, created by Brick 101, a firm that does Lego animations for a living. When I heard about it, I looked forward to a viewing, mostly to see what a 3D re-enactment reveals about the. . .
A sparkling article about the first reactor
Alex Wellerstein is a consummate researcher with an eloquent writing style, so it’s no surprise that The New Yorker published his 75th-anniversary article on December 2. He really brings the first reactor to life but I especially enjoyed the twist at the end (my own more limited archival research didn’t pick up the evocative coda): After the war had ended and the world had come to appreciate the. . .
Academic politicking in 1955
In my book I cover the rather arcane 1955 battle Walter Zinn, Director of Argonne National Laboratory, had with Midwestern universities over whether Argonne or the universities should build and operate an expensive accelerator. The following memorandum in the files shows one of Zinn’s men reporting back to him after attending an October meeting of the Midwest Universities Research. . .
Politician Stewart Udall (pictured) served as US Secretary of the Interior for eight years in the Sixties, and in the process became disillusioned with nuclear power. John von Neumann, an American (Hungarian-born) mathematician, physicist and computer science pioneer, had little to do with reactors but was a commissioner of the Atomic Energy Commission from 1955 until his death in 1957. Here. . .