I enjoyed seeing global friendships in those hothouse early nuclear days. George Weil pulled out the control rod of Enrico Fermi’s CP-1 reactor in 1942. He doesn’t figure much in my story after that, but he must have visited John Cockcroft in rural Canada when Cockcroft ran the Canadian lab there in the early 1940s, for I found this letter from Cockcroft to Weil. The letter is super. . .
Spotting a spy
In England in the late 1940s, John Cockcroft’s Harwell laboratory thrived on committees. One of the most senior committees, the Power Steering Committee, sounds and was dry as bone, but was exceedingly important. Perusing its minutes one day, whose name should I notice as its chairman but that of “Dr. K. Fuchs.” The good doctor is, of course, Klaus Fuchs, one of the most. . .
The #2 postwar British nuclear engineer was Len Owen. I don’t spend much time on him – other characters hold sway – but he was in his own way a colorful personality. Here he is, in 1963, describing his 1946 initiation into the nuclear world: At the start, of the twelve of us at Risley, only one person knew anything about atomic energy. He was Dennis Ginns, an engineer who was. . .