Countdown to The Cold War: March 1945

The Manhattan Project boiled down to two enormous manufacturing problems: explosive materials and explosive devices. Each of these problems was eventually resolved in its own binary fashion. The explosive material, or, more appropriately, fissile material, came in two flavors: uranium and plutonium. Owing to their different physical properties, it was necessary to create an individual explosive device, or bomb, for each of the two radioactive … Continue reading Countdown to The Cold War: March 1945

Countdown to The Cold War: February 1945

In February 1945, the end of war in the European theatre of operations was still a few months off in the future. Nonetheless, Allied leaders felt that the war’s end was close enough that they could begin to anticipate the post-war era. To that end, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin met in Yalta—a city on the Crimean peninsula overlooking the Black Sea—on February 4-11 to discuss … Continue reading Countdown to The Cold War: February 1945

On This (Holiday) Date: Celebrating Science & Space (Part 2)

Last, week, we wrote an “on this date” post, and we decided to share a few reasons to celebrate science or space this week too. The holidays seems a great time to toast to some perhaps hidden historical gems for nerds. See Part 1, which covers some exciting science and space exploration tidbits from December 24-26, HERE. (And yes, that’s the Anchor holiday beer in the … Continue reading On This (Holiday) Date: Celebrating Science & Space (Part 2)

On This (Holiday) Date: Celebrating Science & Space (Part 1)

It’s been a while since we wrote an “on this date” post to share a few reasons to celebrate science or space, right here, right now. The holidays seems a great time to toast to some perhaps hidden historical gems for nerds. December 24 1955 NORAD—the North American Aerospace Defense Command, made famous to us 40-somethings in the film War Games—began to track Santa’s annual … Continue reading On This (Holiday) Date: Celebrating Science & Space (Part 1)

The Academic Minute: Science Meets Poetry

On Saturday, Anna was featured on The Academic Minute, an NPR show out of WAMC that airs on stations nationwide, mostly in university towns. Her subject was the intersection of science and poetry. What’s great is that her segment–both audio and transcript–are now in the archives at The Academic Minute, and the page also includes tidbits about some of Anna’s poems that incorporate scientific terminology … Continue reading The Academic Minute: Science Meets Poetry

Countdown to the Cold War: September 1944

In the last couple of posts, we’ve begun our Countdown to the Cold War by talking about the reorganized at Los Alamos in the fall of 1944 to develop a method known as implosion. You can read the last post in the series by clicking HERE. The next step on the Manhattan Project’s Countdown to the Cold War occurred on September 22, 1944, and was … Continue reading Countdown to the Cold War: September 1944

Countdown to The Cold War: August 1944 (3)

In our post two weeks ago, we mentioned implosion as an assembly method for a critical mass. The critical mass is the amount of fissile material—in the form of uranium or plutonium—necessary to set-up the uncontrolled fission chain reaction that’s at the heart of a nuclear weapon. Implosion was one of three original assembly methods evaluated during the Manhattan Project: autocatalysis, the gun method, and implosion. … Continue reading Countdown to The Cold War: August 1944 (3)

Countdown to The Cold War: August 1944 (2)

Our first “Countdown to The Cold War” post appeared LAST WEEK, so you may want to start there. In the vernacular of the Manhattan Project scientists and engineers, assembly is the process of transforming a subcritical mass of either uranium or plutonium into a supercritical mass, an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction resulting in an explosion. In the earliest days of the project, most of the … Continue reading Countdown to The Cold War: August 1944 (2)

Countdown to The Cold War: August 1944

Over the last few years, your Lofty Duo has had an inordinate amount of interest in the Manhattan Project. If you were to draw a Venn diagram of our many overlapping interests in this historical event, it’s likely that somewhere in the shaded region at the center of the diagram would be a man named Henry Cullen. Henry was Anna’s grandfather. In his professional life, … Continue reading Countdown to The Cold War: August 1944

The Next Year: Countdown to The Cold War, Cancer, and Space Exploration

August 6, 1945: An atomic weapon named “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. An estimated 70,000 people—almost one-third of the city’s population—and more than 90% of the physicians and nurses were killed by the bombing that day. In the days, months, and years after that event and the bombing of Nagasaki three days later, others died as a result of radiation exposure and related … Continue reading The Next Year: Countdown to The Cold War, Cancer, and Space Exploration