Denmark never built or bought a power reactor but in writing up the early history of its atomic/nuclear efforts, I grew fascinated despite myself. What complicated this history was the towering presence of Niels Bohr. Bohr was central in launching the theory of nuclear fission and apparently promised U.S.A after World War II that he wouldn’t use his insider knowledge. So for a decade he. . .
A startling new book published last November by the Institute for Science and International Security, “Taiwan’s Former Nuclear Weapons Program: Nuclear Weapons On-Demand” by David Albright and Andrea Stricker, completely changed my mind about Taiwan’s nuclear history from the 60s to the 80s. I have to admit I’ve grumbled a bit, because processing this book has been a. . .
In December 1952, the recently established trade journal Nucleonics surveyed the world’s nuclear power prospects as best it could. I guess it figured its American readers desired to know how quickly other countries were progressing towards nuclear-generated electricity, and I’m sure the magazine hit a sweet spot that month. But 1952 was before the Americans, followed by the British. . .
From 1948 to 1951, the small nation of Norway leveraged its heavy water factory’s precious output (it’s one of the best moderators of nuclear fission, this “moderation” being essential for controllable nuclear power). It played the British and French off against each other (U.S.A. refused to offer any assistance) in order to build its first research reactor. In May 1951, John Cockcroft in England. . .
On September 6, 1954, President Eisenhower announces, as a side note, that USA will build a power reactor in Belgium. This is a body blow to the British, who are fostering nuclear connections throughout Europe and who have contributed their design to Belgium’s first small research reactor, currently under construction. I like this snippet (but consider it too detailed for my book) from John. . .
The United Kingdom Cabinet, chaired by Winston Churchill, met on June 16, 1952. Amongst much weightier issues addressed, it resolved as follows: Authorised the Paymaster-General to make available to the Belgian Government a suitable expert to superintend the construction in Belgium of an experimental pile. Why did the nation’s top politicians care whether or not a techo geek visited the small. . .
I thought I had North Korea sussed (I won’t spoil my pleasure by telling you now what I think about it in my book’s context) but a new data source is revelatory. Not only is Van Jackson’s “On the Brink: Trump, Kim, and the Threat of Nuclear War” brilliant in bringing my understanding up to date over the 2010s, the author chronicled his writing task over six months, in a blog series titled “Nuke. . .
I constantly need to exhort myself to try to see things as they were seen back then. Reminders about this requirement from historians or others are always welcome. One of my most useful memoirs/autobiographies/histories is that of John Simpson, who held senior roles in Westinghouse’s nuclear business for decades. Summing up the construction and launch of the seminal Shippingport nuclear power. . .
I’ve been busy with another type of book recently but am now back with the reactor pioneers in the 50s. In May 1956, Lewis Strauss, controversial in history as a most aggressive chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, took his British civil service counterpart on a tour of the construction site of Shippingport, also controversial at the time because of its great expense. What interested. . .
Tom Steinfort, 60 Minutes reporter, dominated the October 21 show with a segment titled “Going Nuclear: The Champion.” He visits Fukushima and dons protectives to go in as far as the spent fuel pool, full of accident rubble, of the melted-down Number 3 reactor. He visits the Darlington power station in Canada. He tells an Adelaide householder with large power bills (she clearly. . .