By Rudolph Herzog
Within the spirit of Dr. Strangelove and The Atomic Café, a blackly sardonic people’s heritage of atomic error and near-misses revealing the hushed-up and forgotten episodes within which the nice powers gambled with catastropheRudolph Herzog, the acclaimed writer of useless humorous, offers a devastating account of history’s such a lot irresponsible makes use of of nuclear know-how. From the rarely-discussed nightmare of “Broken Arrows” (40 nuclear guns misplaced through the chilly battle) to “Operation Plowshare” (a concept to take advantage of nuclear bombs for big engineering initiatives, equivalent to a the development of a moment Panama Canal utilizing three hundred H-Bombs), Herzog focuses in on long-forgotten nuclear initiatives that almost ended in disaster.In an remarkable people’s historical past, Herzog digs deep into data, interviews nuclear scientists, and collects dozens of infrequent images. He explores the “accidental” drop of a Nagasaki-type bomb on a educate conductor’s domestic, the implanting of plutonium into sufferers’ hearts, and the discovery of untamed tactical nukes, together with guns designed to kill enemy astronauts.Told in a riveting narrative voice, Herzog—the son of filmmaker Werner Herzog—also attracts on formative years thoughts of the ultimate period of the chilly battle in Germany, the rustic as soon as noticeable because the nuclear battleground for NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations, and discusses facts that Nazi scientists knew tips to make atomic weaponry . . . and selected to not.
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Additional info for A Short History of Nuclear Folly
Thanks to their early interest, the Americans were better prepared for this task than were the other Allies. They were also aided by the fact that by the end of the war, most notable German researchers were located in the western half of the country. Scientists who had done atomic research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes in Heidelberg and Berlin were detained in their apartments in Southern German towns, and Heisenberg himself was apprehended at his summer home on Lake Walchen in the Bavarian Alps.
On the dining hall walls, there was still a map upon which soldiers had traced the front lines. Riehl, Ardenne, and some of the others were even taken to the Bolshoi Theater, where Borodin’s Prince Igor was being performed to celebrate the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany. The Soviets, of course, expected something in return for the hospitality shown to the captured scientists. That was made abundantly clear to them in a meeting with Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin’s much-feared head of state security and the secret police.
That day, the Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb—without the help of the Sukhumi centrifuge-makers. Kurchatov had simply bypassed the problem of producing uranium 235 by using another fissionable substance, plutonium. Plutonium naturally occurs only in the minutest quantities, but it can be created in nuclear reactors from the energy released when uranium 238 is bombarded with neutrons. The fuel needed to run the reactors is a lower grade of uranium 235, enriched only by a factor of 4 to 5 percent, compared with the 80 to 90 percent needed for an atomic bomb.