Tripping Over Engineering: Going Nuclear

Exploring the Birth of the Atomic Age

Available on Amazon

The story of US nuclear weapons often focuses on the physicists delving into new aspects of their science. But how much effort and expense was spent on physics and how much on production. There was even more engineering and industrialization to produce the isotopes, build the weapons and put them on target.

The first controlled fission reaction (CP-1) was performed in the middle of the second largest city in the US. The building is gone, the reactor moved and eventually buried in a park, but you can experience the locations. The first continuous running nuclear reactor (X-10) ran for twenty years, and you can stand in the control room. The first production reactor (Hanford B) was one of three producing plutonium for the world's first nuclear detonation and eventually 57 tons of plutonium for 60,000 US nuclear weapons produced. And, you can stand in front of the loading face where 200 tons of nuclear elements would be fed into the front, pushing reacted charges out the back. The Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine, changed the entire concept of warfare at sea. You can walk through this submarine.

Nuclear medicine, the space program, the rapid development of jet aircraft, the human genome project are all progeny of the nuclear age. All had some relationship with the desire to produce and deliver nuclear weapons. Besides technical progress, the nuclear age also redefined the world socially and culturally. This engineering deserves more than a footnote in history. It deserves to be seen. Until you can go, get on the bus with me, I saved you a seat.

Email: TOE "at"