Of course my book presents Walter Zinn’s 1951 experimental breeder reactor as a key event, but one of its purposes was to confirm the very presence of such reactors, namely that they “breed” fissile material. That is, for every atom of uranium-235 (or other fissile material) consumed inside the reactor, another atom of plutonium (or other fissile material) is produced, almost as. . .
I don’t know what I would have done without Red Atom: Russia’s Nuclear Power from Stalin to Today (2000, W. H. Freeman, New York; I quote from p. 61). American historian Paul Josephson gained remarkable access to the nuclear centers of Russia during the 90s and Red Atom is one of only three book-length English language histories available to us Westerners. But Josephson’s. . .
One of nuclear power’s forgotten historical byways is General Electric’s pursuit, for over a decade after WWII, of what they called an “intermediate” reactor cooled by liquid sodium. Most nuclear machines slow down the “fast” neutrons expelled by nuclear fission, resulting in “thermal” or slow neutron reactors. More futuristic breeder reactors. . .