Argonne National Laboratory

Upcoming Events

Developing the Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs

Argonne Engineering Professionals Seminar
Dave Raske (NE-retired)
August 29, 2014 12:15PM to 1:00PM
Building 213 (Cafeteria), Dining Room A

Developing the Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs: American Scientific and Engineering History

This story is about “the most difficult scientific-technological project ever undertaken by mankind.” It starts in 1933 when Leo Szilard thought if there was an element that would emit two neutrons when split by a neutron, an explosive nuclear chain reaction could start.

The story continues to its inevitable conclusion after 1941 when Enrico Fermi casually wondered to Edward Teller if a fission bomb might be sufficient to heat deuterium to begin thermonuclear fusion. The story describes how the scientific, engineering and logistical problems leading to the development of the atomic and hydrogen bombs were overcome, making the US a superpower in world affairs. The historical narrative is based on printed and internet material including two books by Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, 1986 and Dark Sun, the Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, 1995.