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

Lyon Air Museum (Photos!)

Lyon Air Museum, founded by Major General William Lyon and opened in 2009, is our local aviation museum. It’s located just across the runways from the terminals at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, and it’s open 10am-4pm every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. On March 9, at 10am, the museum will open the cockpit of their Douglas DC-3 flagship. On March 21, at 10:30am, Tuskegee … Continue reading Lyon Air Museum (Photos!)

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

Palomar Observatory (Part 3)

You may want to start with the earlier posts on our trip to Palomar Observatory: Part 1 and Part 2. Longtime readers of Lofty Ambitions know that we’ve devoted a number of blog posts to the Manhattan Project and its legacy. We’ve made several treks to Los Alamos. We visited and wrote about the Nevada Test Site, that enormous expanse of the American west where … Continue reading Palomar Observatory (Part 3)

A Lucky Disaster, or Canada’s Loss, NASA’s Gain (Part 2)

Also see PART 1 of “A Lucky Disaster, or Canada’s Loss, NASA’s Gain.” For the last 40 years, at least in the public’s eyes, Florida’s Space Coast and Houston have been the homes of American manned space flight. But in the earliest days of America’s space program, a select group of engineers calling themselves the Space Task Group (STG) made their home in rural Virginia … Continue reading A Lucky Disaster, or Canada’s Loss, NASA’s Gain (Part 2)

On This Date

Today is the birthday—first flight day—of two aircraft that share some background but also differ significantly. A good portion of the world was at war in the 1940s, and that gave rise to these two aircraft in different places. The AVRO Lancaster first took to the war-torn skies of England seventy-two years ago, in 1941, when test pilot Bill Thorn coaxed prototype BT308 to off … Continue reading On This Date

In the Footsteps: Jean Dayton (Part 14)

As frequent readers of Lofty Ambitions well know, we’re big believers in serendipity–that chance meeting with an idea, a place, or a person (or even better, a combination of those). Afterwards, your thoughts move in a new, unexpected direction. Last week’s post was about recent serendipity, and this week’s is about serendipity from our past. In May 2003, while he was a graduate student at … Continue reading In the Footsteps: Jean Dayton (Part 14)