Manhattan Project

George Gamow and his fundamental Views on the Foundations of Science

George Gamow and his fundamental Views on the Foundations of Science

On March 4, 1904, theoretical physicist and cosmologist George Gamow was born. He was an early advocate and developer of George Lemaître’s Big Bang theory. Besides his contributions to physics, in his middle and late career, Gamow focused more on teaching, and became well known as an author of popular books on science, which are still in print more than 50 years after their publication. “There was a young fellow from Trinity,…
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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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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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Lise Meitner – The Misjudged Genius

Lise Meitner – The Misjudged Genius

On October 27, 1968, Austrian-Swedish physicist Lise Meitner passed away. She is known today for her passionate and extraordinary work on radioactivity and nuclear physics along with her colleague Otto Hahn,[1] who was honored with the Nobel Prize while Meitner stayed unrecognized. Family Background and Early Life Lise Meitner was born on November 7, 1878 in Vienna Leopoldstadt (2nd district of Vienna), Austria. She was the third daughter of the Jewish lawyer Philipp Meitner and…
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Vannevar Bush and his Vision of the Memex Memory Extender

Vannevar Bush and his Vision of the Memex Memory Extender

On March 11, 1890, American engineer, inventor and science administrator Vannevar Bush was born. He is best known as as head of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) during World War II, through which almost all wartime military research and development was carried out, including initiation of the Manhattan Project. In computer science we know Vannevar Bush as the father of the Memex, an adjustable microfilm viewer with a…
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James Chadwick and the Discovery of the Neutron

James Chadwick and the Discovery of the Neutron

On February 27, 1932, English physicist and Nobel Laureate Sir James Chadwick published an article in the scientific journal ‘Nature‘ about the discovery of the neutron, a previously unknown particle in the atomic nucleus. Youth and Education Chadwick was born in Bollington, near Manchester. His parents were John Joseph Chadwick and Mary Anne Knowles. He first attended the Bollington Cross C of E Primary School and later the Central Grammar School for Boys…
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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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