English engineer Harold Tongue was post-war Chief Engineer at Harwell, the bastion of visionary scientists. His job can’t have been easy, especially as the more natural home of budding nuclear engineers, Risley, was often squabbling with Harwell. Here we find Tongue being stubbornly conservative on February 2, 1953, when writing to his boss, Nobel-Prize-winning physicist John Cockcroft. . .
In November 1954, Ralph Lapp, a former Manhattan Project nuclear physicist, now a journalist, penned an article titled “Civil defense faces new perils.” The article was informative for me but peripheral to my book, but I think it’s worth noting here its effect. The American public, let alone the rest of the world, knew so little of any precision about the effect of radioactivity. . .
By 1955, Admiral Hyman Rickover had achieved the kind of fame only a Cold War can generate. The public knew him as the genius creator of Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine and an unqualified triumph. He was building a reactor to generate electricity. Elected politicians fawned at this feet. He ruled over the American nuclear navy for the next two decades, with a power that resisted. . .