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(UPI)   OTD 75 years ago, the sun rose twice for the first time   (upi.com) divider line
    More: Vintage, Nuclear weapon, Manhattan Project, Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Plutonium, World War II, Fat Man, Little Boy  
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1175 clicks; posted to Geek » on 16 Jul 2020 at 12:05 PM (3 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2020-07-16 10:20:45 AM  
You can visit the site twice a year. I'd also recommend the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History.  People should contemplate this shiat once in a while.
 
2020-07-16 11:08:13 AM  
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2020-07-16 12:12:56 PM  

edmo: You can visit the site twice a year. I'd also recommend the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History.  People should contemplate this shiat once in a while.


When I was in the Navy I got to visit Nagasaki and the bomb museum there.

Only time I've been to a museum where you could hear a pin drop.

Still believe the bombs ultimately saved more lives than they took, but if humans never set any off again that would be great.
 
2020-07-16 12:14:12 PM  
I've been there.  You can still find trinitite lying around on the ground.  (You're not allowed to take any, though.)

media-cdn.tripadvisor.comView Full Size
 
2020-07-16 12:33:24 PM  
My uncle worked on the Manhattan Project. He had a degree in Chemical Engineering. He watched it go off from the surrounding hills. After seeing the destruction that the bombs caused in Japan, it completely changed his life and values. He died in 1988 from melanoma, likely caused by his work at Los Alamos.
 
2020-07-16 12:37:07 PM  
Three weeks from 'lets see if this works' to bombs away on the other side of the world.
 
2020-07-16 12:39:27 PM  

Gleeman: Still believe the bombs ultimately saved more lives than they took, but if humans never set any off again that would be great.


And I think that's why it ultimately saved lives.  It was the perfect time to do it - against a barbaric, recalcitrant dictatorship, yes, but also because that moment in time was the least damaging nuclear weapons would ever be.  And you know some country would have to be the first to use it.  I'd rather it be in 1945 with a 21 kiloton blast against the Japanese, than in 1981 with a 50,000 kiloton blast against the Afghanis.
 
2020-07-16 12:40:17 PM  

Ambitwistor: I've been there.  You can still find trinitite lying around on the ground.  (You're not allowed to take any, though.)

[media-cdn.tripadvisor.com image 337x450]


I got to see a piece of trinitite when I was in AIT in '84 to be a Pershing missile crewmember. Pretty amazing to think of the amount of energy unleashed to create it.
 
2020-07-16 12:43:37 PM  
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2020-07-16 12:52:16 PM  
And only 32 years after the the first home refrigerator was invented.
 
2020-07-16 1:01:49 PM  

FLMountainMan: Gleeman: Still believe the bombs ultimately saved more lives than they took, but if humans never set any off again that would be great.

And I think that's why it ultimately saved lives.  It was the perfect time to do it - against a barbaric, recalcitrant dictatorship, yes, but also because that moment in time was the least damaging nuclear weapons would ever be.  And you know some country would have to be the first to use it.  I'd rather it be in 1945 with a 21 kiloton blast against the Japanese, than in 1981 with a 50,000 kiloton blast against the Afghanis.


That's true, but I was thinking more about not having to go through with Operation Downfall. IIRC casualties on just the Allied side were expected to be in the hundreds of thousands, and we're still using the Purple Heart medals minted in anticipation of it 75 years later.

Not to mention that Japan was training people, elderly down to young school children, male and female, to attack US troops with pointed sticks and suicide bomb vests. Would have made Sherman's "War is Hell" an understatement.
 
2020-07-16 1:15:18 PM  
Correction on my previous post. He died from lymphoma, not melanoma.
 
2020-07-16 1:33:18 PM  

Gleeman: FLMountainMan: Gleeman: Still believe the bombs ultimately saved more lives than they took, but if humans never set any off again that would be great.

And I think that's why it ultimately saved lives.  It was the perfect time to do it - against a barbaric, recalcitrant dictatorship, yes, but also because that moment in time was the least damaging nuclear weapons would ever be.  And you know some country would have to be the first to use it.  I'd rather it be in 1945 with a 21 kiloton blast against the Japanese, than in 1981 with a 50,000 kiloton blast against the Afghanis.

That's true, but I was thinking more about not having to go through with Operation Downfall. IIRC casualties on just the Allied side were expected to be in the hundreds of thousands, and we're still using the Purple Heart medals minted in anticipation of it 75 years later.

Not to mention that Japan was training people, elderly down to young school children, male and female, to attack US troops with pointed sticks and suicide bomb vests. Would have made Sherman's "War is Hell" an understatement.


Oh yeah, I completely agree with you.  It would have been awful for both sides, but ultimately worse for the Japanese civilians.  The firebombing would have been even more relentless.

But you'll get people who insist Japan was about to surrender anyway (despite them having soldiers still manning their farking posts decades after the country surrendered), however, so I try to jump ahead and point out that it saved lives in the big picture was as well.
 
2020-07-16 1:45:14 PM  

FLMountainMan: Gleeman: FLMountainMan: Gleeman: Still believe the bombs ultimately saved more lives than they took, but if humans never set any off again that would be great.

And I think that's why it ultimately saved lives.  It was the perfect time to do it - against a barbaric, recalcitrant dictatorship, yes, but also because that moment in time was the least damaging nuclear weapons would ever be.  And you know some country would have to be the first to use it.  I'd rather it be in 1945 with a 21 kiloton blast against the Japanese, than in 1981 with a 50,000 kiloton blast against the Afghanis.

That's true, but I was thinking more about not having to go through with Operation Downfall. IIRC casualties on just the Allied side were expected to be in the hundreds of thousands, and we're still using the Purple Heart medals minted in anticipation of it 75 years later.

Not to mention that Japan was training people, elderly down to young school children, male and female, to attack US troops with pointed sticks and suicide bomb vests. Would have made Sherman's "War is Hell" an understatement.

Oh yeah, I completely agree with you.  It would have been awful for both sides, but ultimately worse for the Japanese civilians.  The firebombing would have been even more relentless.

But you'll get people who insist Japan was about to surrender anyway (despite them having soldiers still manning their farking posts decades after the country surrendered), however, so I try to jump ahead and point out that it saved lives in the big picture was as well.


When it comes to the civilians, something that doesn't get mentioned as often as it should is that Japan was on the brink of famine.  By the Japanese government's own estimates millions of their population were going to starve to death that winter if the war had continued.  And Japan stripping their occupied holdings bare of anything they could get their hands on to feed the Home Islands meant that there were already thousands starving to death every week the war continued.
 
2020-07-16 1:52:29 PM  

edmo: You can visit the site twice a year. I'd also recommend the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History.  People should contemplate this shiat once in a while.


Also the National Museum of Atomic Testing in Las Vegas is worth a visit.
 
2020-07-16 2:15:22 PM  
No, dammit, 16 July 1945 was not the "dawn of the nuclear age". The correct date is 02 December 1942, when Enrico Fermi and his band of researchers took the first nuclear reactor to a state of self-sustaining chain reaction (aka "critical" in the peculiar argot of nuclear engineering). The first demonstration of nuclear fission was excitingly peaceful.
 
2020-07-16 2:16:18 PM  

FLMountainMan: Gleeman: FLMountainMan: Gleeman: Still believe the bombs ultimately saved more lives than they took, but if humans never set any off again that would be great.

And I think that's why it ultimately saved lives.  It was the perfect time to do it - against a barbaric, recalcitrant dictatorship, yes, but also because that moment in time was the least damaging nuclear weapons would ever be.  And you know some country would have to be the first to use it.  I'd rather it be in 1945 with a 21 kiloton blast against the Japanese, than in 1981 with a 50,000 kiloton blast against the Afghanis.

That's true, but I was thinking more about not having to go through with Operation Downfall. IIRC casualties on just the Allied side were expected to be in the hundreds of thousands, and we're still using the Purple Heart medals minted in anticipation of it 75 years later.

Not to mention that Japan was training people, elderly down to young school children, male and female, to attack US troops with pointed sticks and suicide bomb vests. Would have made Sherman's "War is Hell" an understatement.

Oh yeah, I completely agree with you.  It would have been awful for both sides, but ultimately worse for the Japanese civilians.  The firebombing would have been even more relentless.

But you'll get people who insist Japan was about to surrender anyway (despite them having soldiers still manning their farking posts decades after the country surrendered), however, so I try to jump ahead and point out that it saved lives in the big picture was as well.


I've read that there was very little to firebomb any more and the Japanese military leaders just shrugged it off anyways. They were geared up to fight for every inch of Japan proper hoping to inflict so many casualties the Allies would settle for something less than total capitulation. This all hinged on using the Soviet Union as their "honest broker" in the peace talks. When the SU launched their attack in China, that went out the window and they had no other choice than surrender to the original terms.
 
2020-07-16 2:33:04 PM  

madgonad: Three weeks from 'lets see if this works' to bombs away on the other side of the world.


And the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was a completely different un-tested design. It was simple enough that they felt confident Little Boy would work on the first try.

Three days later Nagasaki was hit with Fat Man, which was like the Gadget exploded at Alamogordo.
 
2020-07-16 2:50:50 PM  
I went through Alamogordo a few years ago and stopped at White Sands missile base and toured the "Missile Park".
There was some neat stuff, like an original V2 and an American-made V1 copy.
There was also this.
Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-07-16 3:25:00 PM  

jaytkay: And the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was a completely different un-tested design. It was simple enough that they felt confident Little Boy would work on the first try.


To be fair, they did a lot of tests of the uranium gun design, so I wouldn't say "un-tested" ... they just didn't do a full-scale weapon test (explode a bomb).
 
2020-07-16 4:04:46 PM  

plutoniumfeather: No, dammit, 16 July 1945 was not the "dawn of the nuclear age". The correct date is 02 December 1942, when Enrico Fermi and his band of researchers took the first nuclear reactor to a state of self-sustaining chain reaction (aka "critical" in the peculiar argot of nuclear engineering). The first demonstration of nuclear fission was excitingly peaceful.


I prefer to think of it starting at this street crossing in London in 1933.

Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-07-16 4:27:10 PM  

jaytkay: madgonad: Three weeks from 'lets see if this works' to bombs away on the other side of the world.

And the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was a completely different un-tested design. It was simple enough that they felt confident Little Boy would work on the first try.

Three days later Nagasaki was hit with Fat Man, which was like the Gadget exploded at Alamogordo.


Which is odd. They are fundamentally two different ways of starting a fission reaction. Fat Man ringed the plutonium core with explosive and imploded. Little Boy used an explosion to propel a wedge of enriched uranium into ball of plutonium.

Both weapons 'compressed' fissionable material, but they used different methods and different nuclear material.
 
2020-07-16 4:34:25 PM  
My position on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that it was a fitting end to a terrible war. Those weapons being used in a highly limited fashion served as a global warning that nukes would forever be held separate from conventional weapons. If they weren't used at the end of WW2 you better believe they would have been used in Korea - turning that war from a proxy internal civil war into a regional or possibly even global war.
 
2020-07-16 4:38:40 PM  

Rusty Shackleford: plutoniumfeather: No, dammit, 16 July 1945 was not the "dawn of the nuclear age". The correct date is 02 December 1942, when Enrico Fermi and his band of researchers took the first nuclear reactor to a state of self-sustaining chain reaction (aka "critical" in the peculiar argot of nuclear engineering). The first demonstration of nuclear fission was excitingly peaceful.

I prefer to think of it starting at this street crossing in London in 1933.

[Fark user image 850x634]


Wow, that's obscure. I haven't thought of Szilard since the 90s.
 
2020-07-16 5:33:20 PM  

madgonad: They are fundamentally two different ways of starting a fission reaction. Fat Man ringed the plutonium core with explosive and imploded. Little Boy used an explosion to propel a wedge of enriched uranium into ball of plutonium.


Little Boy didn't use plutonium, or a ball of anything.  It shot a cylindrical uranium "bullet" through the empty center of a hollow cylindrical uranium "target".
 
2020-07-16 6:58:57 PM  

Ambitwistor: madgonad: They are fundamentally two different ways of starting a fission reaction. Fat Man ringed the plutonium core with explosive and imploded. Little Boy used an explosion to propel a wedge of enriched uranium into ball of plutonium.

Little Boy didn't use plutonium, or a ball of anything.  It shot a cylindrical uranium "bullet" through the empty center of a hollow cylindrical uranium "target".


Closer, but the "bullet" was a hollow sleeve that fit over a target rod (also hollow, I believe, but only for a small mounting rod).  The bullet was the larger mass of uranium, which seems odd until you remember that there was also a very heavy tamper/neutron reflector assembly around the static target, which the bullet sat well outside until firing.

That neutron reflector reduced the criticality threshold for any mass of uranium sitting in it, while the bullet was just sitting in a steel howitzer barrel that had less impact on neutron loss.  The bullet therefore could be made heavier than the fissile part of the target before threatening criticality on its own.  The neutron reflector also reduced the sensitivity of the target's criticality to surface area -- making a thin-wall target sleeve with a heavy solid bullet might have been more intuitive, but the larger surface area of the hollow cylinder pushed the bullet's critical mass up more than it would have done for the target, so a hollow bullet increased the total mass of uranium that could be packed into the weapon.
 
2020-07-16 7:35:31 PM  
This is a very good read for those interested in the nuts & bolts of the affair.
https://www.amazon.com/Making-Atomic-​B​omb-Richard-Rhodes/dp/1451677618
 
2020-07-17 12:02:50 AM  
blog.nuclearsecrecy.comView Full Size


As is this book, and, uh, some things he got via FOIA a few years ago.
 
2020-07-17 10:39:18 AM  

Ambitwistor: madgonad: They are fundamentally two different ways of starting a fission reaction. Fat Man ringed the plutonium core with explosive and imploded. Little Boy used an explosion to propel a wedge of enriched uranium into ball of plutonium.

Little Boy didn't use plutonium, or a ball of anything.  It shot a cylindrical uranium "bullet" through the empty center of a hollow cylindrical uranium "target".


Yeah, I mistyped plutonium on Little Boy. Both chunks of nuclear material were enriched uranium. I didn't know the target was a cylinder. I thought the design was to compact the nuclear material, a round bullet going into a cylinder might keep going out the back and not reach critical mass.
Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-07-17 4:20:31 PM  

madgonad: Ambitwistor: madgonad: They are fundamentally two different ways of starting a fission reaction. Fat Man ringed the plutonium core with explosive and imploded. Little Boy used an explosion to propel a wedge of enriched uranium into ball of plutonium.

Little Boy didn't use plutonium, or a ball of anything.  It shot a cylindrical uranium "bullet" through the empty center of a hollow cylindrical uranium "target".

Yeah, I mistyped plutonium on Little Boy. Both chunks of nuclear material were enriched uranium. I didn't know the target was a cylinder. I thought the design was to compact the nuclear material, a round bullet going into a cylinder might keep going out the back and not reach critical mass.
[Fark user image 350x145]


There were a few thousand pounds of tungsten carbide and steel in the way, but keeping the bullet from flying through the target and out the other end wasn't a concern.  At the speed the bullet was traveling, it would move less than a millimeter in the time the fission burned to completion.  The heavy stuff wrapped around the fissile assembly was there to (1) reflect some escaping neutrons back and (2) slow down the explosion, so that the uranium remained packed together in a supercritical mass for longer and therefore burned more completely before spreading out and going subcritical.
 
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