atomic bomb

The Case of J. Robert Oppenheimer

The Case of J. Robert Oppenheimer

On April 22, 1904, American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was born. Oppenheimer was the wartime head of the Los Alamos Laboratory and is among those who are credited with being the “father of the atomic bomb” for their role in the Manhattan Project, the World War II undertaking that developed the first nuclear weapons. Oppenheimer‘s achievements in physics included the Born–Oppenheimer approximation for molecular wave functions, work on the theory of electrons…
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The Case of Klaus Fuchs, Atomic Spy

The Case of Klaus Fuchs, Atomic Spy

On December 29, 1911, German-born British theoretical physicist and atomic spy Emil Julius Klaus Fuchs was born. In the time of the development of the atomic bomb at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Fuchs was responsible for many significant theoretical calculations relating to the first nuclear weapons, and later, early models of the hydrogen bomb. In 1950, Fuchs was convicted of supplying information from the American, British, and Canadian Manhattan Project to the…
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The “King of Bombs” and the Craze of Cold War Nuclear Armament

The “King of Bombs” and the Craze of Cold War Nuclear Armament

On October 30, 1961, the Soviet Union detonated the hydrogen bomb Tsar Bomba over Novaya Zemlya, which still is the largest explosive device ever detonated, nuclear or otherwise. Technical Challenges Just to get an idea of the bomb’s power, the Tsar Bomba measured ten times the power of all explosives used during World War II. Still, the bomb was known for the very little amount of fallout, produced during the explosion since about 97%…
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Leo Szilard and the Atomic Bomb

Leo Szilard and the Atomic Bomb

On February 11, 1898, Hungarian-American physicist and inventor Leo Szilard was born. He conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933, patented the idea of a nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi, and in late 1939 together with Albert Einstein wrote the letter that resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb. He also conceived the electron microscope, the linear accelerator, and also the cyclotron. “A scientist’s aim in a discussion with his colleagues is not…
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Igor Kurchatov – Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb

Igor Kurchatov – Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb

On January 12, 1903, Soviet nuclear physicist and Nobel Laureate Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov was born. Kurchatov is widely known as the director of the Soviet atomic bomb project and therefore often referred to as ‘Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb‘. Igor Kurchatov – Youth and Education Igor Kurchatov was born in Simsky Zavod, Ufa Governorate (now the town of Sim, Chelyabinsk Oblast) in the family of a chartered surveyor and his mother a teacher.…
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Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds – The Trinity Test

Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds – The Trinity Test

On July 16, 1945, the first detonation of a nuclear device with the code name Trinity took place in the Jornada del Muerto desert in New Mexico. Although nuclear chain reactions had been hypothesized already in 1933 and the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (Chicago Pile-1) had taken place in December 1942, the date of the Trinity test is usually considered to be the beginning of the Atomic Age. Los Alamos director…
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Please Don’t Ignite the Earth’s Atmosphere…

Please Don’t Ignite the Earth’s Atmosphere…

When in 1952 the world‘s first thermonuclear fusion bomb was ignited, mathematicians and physicists thought it would be rather unlikely that testing the newly developed device might result in burning all the nitrogen in the earth‘s atmosphere. However, the possibility could not be excluded completely. Nevertheless, they have have tested the bomb and fortunately for all of us not the like did happen. One of the key persons behind the development of…
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Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman

On May 11, 1918, famous physicist and nobel laureate Richard Feynman was born. Ever since my first days at university, Feynman has been one of my absolute heroes of science. I’ve heard  his name for the first time back in high school, when we learned about Feynman diagrams and I have had heard about his famous physics lectures. But when I had the chance to read his autobiographical book “Surely you’re joking Mr. Feynman…
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The First Self-Sustained Nuclear Chain Reaction

The First Self-Sustained Nuclear Chain Reaction

On December 2, 1942, during the Manhattan Project, a team led by Italian born physicist Enrico Fermi initiated the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in the Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1), the world‘s first human-made nuclear reactor, and initiated the so-called atomic age. CP-1 was built on a rackets court, under the abandoned west stands of the original Alonzo Stagg Field stadium, at the University of Chicago. Nuclear Chain Reaction and the Atomic Bomb…
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George Kistiakowsky – From the Manhattan Project to a Nuclear Weapons Ban

George Kistiakowsky – From the Manhattan Project to a Nuclear Weapons Ban

On November 18, 1900, Ukrainian-American physical chemist George Kistiakowsky was born. Kistiakowsky worked on developing the first atomic bomb but later advocated banning nuclear weapons. In the Manhattan project, he was in charge of X Division, which was responsible for the development of the explosive lenses necessary for an implosion-type nuclear weapon. Education and Academic Career George Bogdanovich Kistiakowsky went to the Russian Revolution in 1917 in Kiev and Moscow in private schools. However,…
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