By Rudolph Herzog
Within the spirit of Dr. Strangelove and The Atomic Café, a blackly sardonic people’s heritage of atomic errors and near-misses revealing the hushed-up and forgotten episodes within which the good powers gambled with catastropheRudolph Herzog, the acclaimed writer of lifeless humorous, offers a devastating account of history’s such a lot irresponsible makes use of of nuclear know-how. From the rarely-discussed nightmare of “Broken Arrows” (40 nuclear guns misplaced throughout the chilly conflict) to “Operation Plowshare” (a concept to exploit nuclear bombs for giant engineering initiatives, akin to a the development of a moment Panama Canal utilizing three hundred H-Bombs), Herzog focuses in on long-forgotten nuclear tasks that just about ended in disaster.In an exceptional people’s heritage, Herzog digs deep into data, interviews nuclear scientists, and collects dozens of infrequent images. He explores the “accidental” drop of a Nagasaki-type bomb on a educate conductor’s domestic, the implanting of plutonium into sufferers’ hearts, and the discovery of untamed tactical nukes, together with guns designed to kill enemy astronauts.Told in a riveting narrative voice, Herzog—the son of filmmaker Werner Herzog—also attracts on youth thoughts of the ultimate period of the chilly conflict in Germany, the rustic as soon as noticeable because the nuclear battleground for NATO and the Warsaw Pact international locations, and discusses facts that Nazi scientists knew the right way to make atomic weaponry . . . and selected to not.
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Extra info for A Short History of Nuclear Folly
The United States and the Soviet Union had long seen themselves as rivals and were trying to gain advantages—cultural, scientific, and military—in a conflict between opposing systems. Both sides desperately wanted to profit from the know-how of German scientists and military technicians, and they specifically targeted experts with this aim in mind. Particularly coveted were members of the German “Uranium Association”—the researchers who had worked in Hitler’s atomic program. Disputes remain about how close German scientists got to building an atomic bomb for the Führer, but it is clear that in the early years of World War I, they had a significant lead over their American counterparts.
The advantages of the procedure Zippe proposed for enriching uranium were obvious. Centrifuges were reliable and energy-efficient. One no longer needed reactors to produce weapons-grade material. By using a sufficient number of centrifuges, employed one after another in so-called “cascades,” it was possible to enrich a large quantity of uranium 235 in a short time. It was far less complicated to design a uranium bomb than a plutonium one, and the costs of a nuclear-weapons program oriented in this way were seductively low.
At the same time, the surrounding countryside, especially to the north, was one of the most heavily radioactive regions in all of Russia. This discovery was particularly alarming because Lake Ladoga supplies some of the drinking water for St. Petersburg’s millions of inhabitants. The contamination had taken place in the early 1950s, when a series of nuclear tests was carried out on Lake Ladoga’s north shore. Two of the islands in the Valaam archipelago that were used for the tests were given new names.
A Short History of Nuclear Folly by Rudolph Herzog