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Igniting the Light Elements : The Los Alamos Thermonuclear Weapon Project, 1942–1952

By Fitzpatrick, Anne

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Book Id: WPLBN0000145250
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 3.3 MB
Reproduction Date: 2008
Full Text

Title: Igniting the Light Elements : The Los Alamos Thermonuclear Weapon Project, 1942–1952  
Author: Fitzpatrick, Anne
Volume:
Language: English
Subject: Government publications, Legislation., Government Printing Office (U.S.)
Collections: Government Library Collection
Historic
Publication Date:
Publisher: Government Printing Office

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Fitzpatrick, A. (n.d.). Igniting the Light Elements : The Los Alamos Thermonuclear Weapon Project, 1942–1952. Retrieved from http://self.gutenberg.org/


Excerpt
Excerpt: The American system of nuclear weapons research and development was conceived and developed not as a result of technological determinism, but by a number of individual architects who promoted the growth of this large technologically-based complex. While some of the technological artifacts of this system, such as the fission weapons used in World War II, have been the subject of many historical studies, their technical successors -- fusion (or hydrogen) devices -- are representative of the largely unstudied highly secret realms of nuclear weapons science and engineering.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents TITLE PAGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..lll ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v TABLE OF CONTENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VI.I . ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x CHAPTER ONE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 INTRODUCTION AND LITERATURE REVIEW: WHY THE H-BOMB STILL MATTERS ............................................................................................ 1 1.1. LOS ALAMOS AND THE FISSION PROJECT HISTORIES.. ................................................................. .8 1.2. THERMONUCLEAR WEAPONS STUDIES ................................................................................... 10 1.3. POLITICAL HISTORY.. ........................................................................................................ 16 1.4. OFFICIAL AND TECHNICAL HISTORIES ................................................................................... 19 1.5. SOCIOLOGY.. ................................................................................................................... 23 1.6. PARTICIPANTS’ ACCOUNTS ................................................................................................. 24 1.7. CULTURAL HISTORIES ........................................................................................................ 3 1 1.8. A TECHNOLOGICAL SYSTEM OF WEAPONS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT .................................... 3 1 1.9. GOAL OF THIS STUDY ........................................................................................................ 36 2.0. CHAPTER ORGANIZATION AND SUMMARIES.. .......................................................................... 40 CHAPTER TWO .................................................................................... 46 THE FISSION BOMB HAD TO COME FIRST ................................................ 46 2.1. THE MANHATTAN DISTRICT AS A TECHNOLOGICAL SYSTEM.. ..................................................... 50 2.2. CALCULATING ATOMIC DEVICES: A CRITICAL PROBLEM FOR LOS ALAMOS ................................... 55 2.3. GETTING THE JOB DONE ON TIME: MECHANIZATION OF FISSION CALCULATIONS ........................... 63 2.4. THE EMERGENCE OF LABOR-SAVING TECHNOLOGY.. ................................................................ 76 2.5. WARTIME MISSION: LOS ALAMOS ESTABLISHES AN APPROACH TO PROBLEM-SOLVING ..................... 79 2.6. FROM MED TO AEC ............................................................................................................ 83 2.7. NEW LIFE FOR OLD MODELS: ESTABLISHING LOS ALAMOS’S POSTWAR MISSION.. ........................... 94 CHAPTER THREE ................................................................................. 99 THE SUPER AND POSTWAR COMPUTING: MACHINES CAN CALCULATE, BUT CAN HUMANS“ ..................................................................................... 99 3.1. FERMI AND THE FUSION WEAPON: ORIGINS OF THE SUPER ....................................................... 101 3.2. NO SUPER FOR WARTIME LOS ALAMOS .................................................................................. 105 3.3. ENTER VON NEUMANN ............................................................

 

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