Los Alamos Primer The First Lectures on How to Build an Atomic Bomb

ISBN-10: 0520075765
ISBN-13: 9780520075764
Edition: 1992
List price: $47.95 Buy it from $25.99
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Description: The classified lectures that galvanized the Manhattan Project scientists--with annotations for the nonspecialist reader and an introduction by a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. In March 1943 a group of young scientists, sequestered on a mesa near  More...

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Book details

List price: $47.95
Copyright year: 1992
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 3/2/1992
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 98
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.056
Language: English

The classified lectures that galvanized the Manhattan Project scientists--with annotations for the nonspecialist reader and an introduction by a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. In March 1943 a group of young scientists, sequestered on a mesa near Santa Fe, attended a crash course in the new atomic physics. The lecturer was Robert Serber, J. Robert Oppenheimer's proteacute;geacute;, and they learned that their job was to invent the world's first atomic bomb. Serber's lecture notes, nicknamed the "Los Alamos Primer," were mimeographed and passed from hand to hand, remaining classified for many years. They are published here for the first time, and now contemporary readers can see just how much was known and how terrifyingly much was unknown when the Manhattan Project began. Could this "gadget," based on the newly discovered principles of nuclear fission, really be designed and built? Could it be small enough and light enough for an airplane to carry? If it could be built, could it be controlled? Working with Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of the development of the atomic bomb, Professor Serber has annotated original lecture notes with explanations of the physics terms for the nonspecialist. His preface, an informal memoir, vividly conveys the mingled excitement, uncertainty, and intensity felt by the Manhattan Project scientists. Rhodes's introduction provides a brief history of the development of atomic physics up to the day that Serber stood before his blackboard at Los Alamos. In this edition,The Los Alamos Primerfinally emerges from the archives to give a new understanding of the very beginning of nuclear weapons. No seminar anywhere has had greater historical consequences.

Richard Lee Rhodes is a writer. He was born in Kansas City, Kansas on July 4, 1937. Rhodes received a B.A. from Yale University in 1959. Rhodes has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He began writing articles and essays that appeared in Harper's, Reader's Digest, Esquire, The New Yorker, and Rolling Stone. Rhodes first book, The Island Ground, was published in 1970. He has written more than two dozen books. Rhodes' book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction, the National Book Award for Nonfiction, and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction. Another book, Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1996.

Introduction
Preface
The Los Alamos Primer
Object
Energy of Fission Process
Fast Neutron Chain Reaction
Fission Cross-sections
Neutron Spectrum
Neutron Number
Neutron Capture
Why Ordinary U Is Safe
Material 49
Simplest Estimate of Minimum Size of Bomb
Effect of Tamper
Damage
Efficiency
Effect of Tamper on Efficiency
Detonation
Probability of Predetonation
Fizzles
Detonating Source
Neutron Background
Shooting
Autocatalytic Methods
Conclusion
Endnotes
Appendix I: The Frisch-Peierls Memorandum
Appendix II: Biographical Notes
Index

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