Until recently, despite knowing so much about the detailed role of Lewis Strauss (the third chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission) in the tumultuous early history of nuclear power in America, I hadn’t appreciated the blowback from his wily, relentless pursuit of American nuclear power prominence and private sector orientation. I went back and reread an academic biography of Strauss and. . .
Here is Christopher Hinton, U.K. reactor pioneer, exhibiting his robust ego to his boss at the beginning of 1955: Dear Edwin, I have been thinking about the proposal that I should give a lecture to the World Power Conference at their meeting in Vienna. I am, if necessary, prepared to do this and I am not in the least funking going to Vienna. It does seem to me, however, that it may be a foolish. . .
Secret power capacity
The U.S. Navy’s first nuclear submarine, launched in 1954, was highly influential in our nuclear power design history. I spent ages researching a land-based prototype built in an obscure part of the country, in Idaho. Called variously STR or S1W (the screenshot below is from its Wikipedia entry), I thought I’d mastered its history, until I read this in Todd Tucker’s Atomic. . .
It is hard to imagine now how different the 1950s world of Soviet nuclear scientists was to that in the West. Here’s Roald Sagdeev, prominent physicist: Everyone at the time was more excited by the prospects of going to the heart of atomic physics: the nuclear centers. Such installations were called “mailboxes.” They were so highly classified that they were not given intelligible names that. . .
Supplies of helium
Wherever he went, Hyman Rickover relished using his late-in-life fame to make mischief. Christopher Hinton, informing his boss Plowden, at the tail end of 1954… You will be interested to know that in conversation with Admiral Rickover and his assistant, who visited Risley on 15th December, they gave a vague indication that the Americans had run into difficulties over the use of helium as a. . .
Enrico Fermi, designer and builder of the very first reactor, died a dozen years after that event. He entered a Chicago hospital on October 9, 1954, and died at home on November 28. He pursued truth throughout his life, even, it seems from this newspaper report, just before death… A few hours before he entered the hospital, he called the only press conference he ever held on nontechnical. . .