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Winston

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Since there is some degree of pyrotechnic attraction to this hobby, here's the ultimate energy release short of a meeting of matter and antimatter.

Russian nuclear forces, 2016

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00963402.2016.1170359

Chinese nuclear forces, 2015

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0096340215591247

United States nuclear forces, 2016

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00963402.2016.1145901

The "Secret" Patents for the Atomic Bomb

http://alexwellerstein.com/atomic_patents/

Total megatonnage of the US nuclear stockpile — climbing to a peak of over 20 gigatons in 1960. Source: US Department of Energy



THE DEMON CORE AND THE STRANGE DEATH OF LOUIS SLOTIN
By Alex Wellerstein May 21, 2016

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/demon-core-the-strange-death-of-louis-slotin

Slotin and his co-worker Harry Daghlian, Jr., succumbed to the special hazards of the Manhattan Project. Nine months to the day before Slotin’s accident, Daghlian had been working with the very same plutonium core, performing a different criticality experiment that used tungsten-carbide blocks instead of the beryllium tamper. He dropped one of the blocks, and the core briefly went critical. Daghlian took nearly a month to die. The plutonium pit that killed Daghlian and Slotin was originally nicknamed Rufus, but after the accidents it came to be called the demon core.

Prior to the accident, officials at Los Alamos expected to send the core to Bikini Atoll, in the Marshall Islands, where it would be detonated in front of thousands of observers as part of Operation Crossroads, the first postwar series of nuclear tests. (Slotin planned to go to Bikini, too, and then take up a teaching position at the University of Chicago when the test series was finished.) After the accident, though, the core was still radioactive enough that it needed time to cool off. It was slated for use in the third test at Crossroads, but the test was cancelled. Records from Los Alamos indicate that the core ultimately met with an anticlimactic fate: in the summer of 1946, it was melted down and recast into a new weapon.

Left to right: Trinity core, Nagasaki core, Demon core



Daghlian criticality experiment setup:



Slotin criticality experiment setup:



Ridiculously, photos of the Japan nukes remained classified until 1960! They were finally released on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Detail from the front page of the New York Times, December 7, 1960:



W80-1 Warhead Selected For New Nuclear Cruise Missile

https://fas.org/blogs/security/2014/10/w80-1_lrso/

Weapon designers at Sandia National Laboratory hold a W80-4 warhead 3D mockup. The warheads in the background are W84 (left) and W80-1 (5-150 kilotons)



The Air Force has a large inventory of W80-1 warheads. Nearly 2,000 were built, 528 are currently used on the ALCM, and hundreds are in storage at the Kirtland Underground Maintenance and Munitions Storage Complex (KUMMSC) near Kirtland AFB in New Mexico.





 
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Mushtang

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The story of the Manhattan Project, as well as the physics and chemistry discoveries that led up to it, is one of my most favorite subjects!

I've read the Richard Rhodes book, Making of the Atomic Bomb about 10 times over the years, and it's follow up Dark Sun (which is about half just the story of the Russian espionage and how the secrets were stolen) 2 or 3 times. The first book is SO detailed with so many things, he does a great job of telling the story and including useful descriptions.
 

jpummil

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The story of the Manhattan Project, as well as the physics and chemistry discoveries that led up to it, is one of my most favorite subjects!

I've read the Richard Rhodes book, Making of the Atomic Bomb about 10 times over the years, and it's follow up Dark Sun (which is about half just the story of the Russian espionage and how the secrets were stolen) 2 or 3 times. The first book is SO detailed with so many things, he does a great job of telling the story and including useful descriptions.
I concur, both of Mr Rhodes's books are brilliant and engaging reads ;-)
 

rharshberger

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The story of the Manhattan Project, as well as the physics and chemistry discoveries that led up to it, is one of my most favorite subjects!

I've read the Richard Rhodes book, Making of the Atomic Bomb about 10 times over the years, and it's follow up Dark Sun (which is about half just the story of the Russian espionage and how the secrets were stolen) 2 or 3 times. The first book is SO detailed with so many things, he does a great job of telling the story and including useful descriptions.
I too enjoy Manhattan Project history, more so due to the fact that my job is entirely devoted to cleaning up the aftermath of the nuclear material manufacturing process. Each day I can see B-reactor, B, T, S, U-plants, Purex, Plutonium Finishing Plant, places where the plutonium for the Fatman bomb was produced and processed.
 

K'Tesh

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Been awhile since I worked on those... Boy I hated loading nukes. All the pinging that went on (all being watched carefully by a guy with a gun while I worked was pretty uncomfortable), and the bay load was a MAJOR PITA. What was more scary was loading Flares... Chaff could hurt you, but you'd likely get away with a bad hand, and scars. If a flare went off, it was explained that you'd pretty much be guaranteed not to be going home except as ashes. Of course, if you were loading nukes, you were guaranteed to be loading chaff and flares, unless it had been already done for you.
 
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BuiltFromTrash

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Wow, sounds pretty hairy. How often were there incidents with chaff or magnesium flares?
 

K'Tesh

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Wow, sounds pretty hairy. How often were there incidents with chaff or magnesium flares?
Not very often thankfully. However there's always the stories of the guys who pulled a Dumb$*** maneuver, and ended up setting one off. Holes burned in the concrete 3' deep, and hands duct taped to the flare to ensure that they didn't release the button until EOD could come out and slide a sleeve over it.

As I said, I HATED working with it.

Incidents with Chaff were a little more common. But the explosive was probably the same as a large firework... The chaff was said to curl upon contact with skin, and embed itself in your skin. Face protectors and gloves were a must.
 
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ksaves2

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Not very often thankfully. However there's always the stories of the guys who pulled a Dumb$*** maneuver, and ended up setting one off. Holes burned in the concrete 3' deep, and hands duct taped to the flare to ensure that they didn't release the button until EOD could come out and slide a sleeve over it.

As I said, I HATED working with it.

Incidents with Chaff were a little more common. But the explosive was probably the same as a large firework... The chaff was said to curl upon contact with skin, and embed itself in your skin. Face protectors and gloves were a must.
I think some fellow received the Medal of Honor in Vietnam due to a flare incident on a DC-3 if I'm not mistaken. Kurt
 

Mushtang

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I too enjoy Manhattan Project history, more so due to the fact that my job is entirely devoted to cleaning up the aftermath of the nuclear material manufacturing process. Each day I can see B-reactor, B, T, S, U-plants, Purex, Plutonium Finishing Plant, places where the plutonium for the Fatman bomb was produced and processed.
A few years ago I bought a piece of Trinitite online. My wife didn't understand why I was so excited to own it, and she freaked out a little bit when I told her is was very very slightly radioactive, but calmed down when I told her the smoke detector was more radioactive.

For those that might not know, Trinitite is fused sand from the desert where the first atomic bomb was ever tested in New Mexico, the Trinity test.
 

K'Tesh

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I think some fellow received the Medal of Honor in Vietnam due to a flare incident on a DC-3 if I'm not mistaken. Kurt
I looked that up... Totally different type of flare than what I worked on. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Levitow

Ours were more like a 2 lb "brick" that was something like 2"x4"x4" with a little button that protruded from the one of the narrow sides. Once that button was pressed, the flare would ignite at about 4000 degrees the instant it was released. Basically, if it got pushed, you were married to it until death do you part, or EOD could slide that sleeve over it.
 

Rex R

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was thinking that you probably worked with the IR flares, rather than the parachute flares(which were about 4" dia x 3' long).
Rex
 

K'Tesh

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was thinking that you probably worked with the IR flares, rather than the parachute flares(which were about 4" dia x 3' long).
Rex
They were IR flares. The F-111Es and EF-111As used the AN/ALE-28 Chaff and Flare Dispensers as you can see the image below. The chaff was in packets made of a frangible plastic with a black "window". I seem to remember that they were about 3/4"x2"x4", with a small metal lever that would be triggered when it was pushed out the dispenser. For the life of me, I can't find images of either the chaff or flares I worked with. Perhaps when I get back to the US, I'll find my training manual again, and scan some of it.



And back on track, I worked on the B-61 and the B-57 nukes.
 
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Rex R

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chaff dispersed into a lot of strands of something (yes, I am being vague on purpose), far cry from when they used strips of Al foil. we probably shouldn't be to detailed about counter measures.
Rex
 

Winston

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The story of the Manhattan Project, as well as the physics and chemistry discoveries that led up to it, is one of my most favorite subjects!

I've read the Richard Rhodes book, Making of the Atomic Bomb about 10 times over the years, and it's follow up Dark Sun (which is about half just the story of the Russian espionage and how the secrets were stolen) 2 or 3 times. The first book is SO detailed with so many things, he does a great job of telling the story and including useful descriptions.
This is an OUTSTANDING book of technical details, the best I've seen. I own a like-new copy:

U.S. Nuclear Weapons the Secret History Hardcover – March 20, 1988 by Chuck Hansen

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0517567407/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

I may break down and buy this set some day. It contains vast amounts of technical data like in his book above gleaned from declassified sources and then corellated into the big pciture:

Swords of Armageddon CD-ROM set


http://www.uscoldwar.com/price_info.htm

I got this through inter-library loan and read it cover to cover:

Britain and the H-Bomb

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0333736850/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

Why? Due to a review of it on Amazon:

"This is an absolutely amazing book that details design and construction features of the first British H-bombs,things which are still classified SECRET RESTRICTED DATA in the US."

BTW, since the US wasn't sharing nuke data with them after the war, there whole nuclear program was to prove that they were "worthy" and to get the US curious enough about what THEY might have devloped to get some data sharing. They succeeded. Later, many/most of their nukes were simply modified US designs.

My new interest in British nukes led me to this documentary and the resulting thread about it I created:

http://www.rocketryforum.com/showth...documentary-about-the-first-British-atom-bomb
 
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Winston

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Two must-see museums for nuke fans:

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History
Albuquerque, NM

http://www.nuclearmuseum.org/

Los Alamos Museum (Bradbury Science Museum)
Los Alamos, NM

http://www.lanl.gov/museum/

A few of my photos from the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History:





In their back lot display area, this is the de-mil proof hole on an MX component. The tour guide asked people why this was done which I immediately answered. I then said that it was also an indication of what we must have known about the resolution capabilities of Soviet recon sats at the time and he acted as if he'd never thought of that. But, anyway, how difficult would it be in this free country just to have one of their spies check it out on the ground? (BTW, if you don't watch the TV series, "The Americans," you REALLY should). I then asked the tour guide to please place his arm in the photo for a sense of scale.

 
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farsidius

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A few years ago I bought a piece of Trinitite online. My wife didn't understand why I was so excited to own it, and she freaked out a little bit when I told her is was very very slightly radioactive, but calmed down when I told her the smoke detector was more radioactive.

For those that might not know, Trinitite is fused sand from the desert where the first atomic bomb was ever tested in New Mexico, the Trinity test.
I keep a piece of Trinitite displayed on the shelf above my desk. Always a good conversation piece. A little piece of radioactive history. My father was an electronics engineer and present at some of the post war testing (I didn't get the Trinitite from him). He never talked about it much but I always had a fascination with nuclear warfare because of his connection.
 

farsidius

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Two must-see museums for nuke fans:

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History
Albuquerque, NM

http://www.nuclearmuseum.org/

Los Alamos Museum (Bradbury Science Museum)
Los Alamos, NM

http://www.lanl.gov/museum/

A few of my photos from the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History:
Very cool. I finally got the opportunity to visit the Nation Museum of Nuclear Science about two years ago. The back lot is a treasure trove - i could have spent many more hours looking at details. Sorry for the crappy photos - my phone camera wasn't the best back then.
IMAG00018.jpgIMAG00020.jpg
IMAG00023.jpgIMAG00037.jpg
IMAG00049.jpgIMAG00051.jpg

They just have missiles and engines lying around, along with the regular displays
 

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