A WebsiteBuilder Website


Nuclear Power


The discovery of nuclear fission


In 1898, Pierreand Marie Curie (g) discovered that pitchblende, an ore of uranium, contained a substance—which they named radium—that emitted large amounts of radioactivity. In 1934, Leó Szilárd proposed, and patented, the idea of a nuclear chain reaction via neutrons. The patent also introduced the term critical mass to describe the minimum amount of material required to sustain the chain reaction and its potential to cause an explosion. In a very real sense, Szilárd was the father of the atomic bomb academically. Also in 1934, Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie(g) discovered that artificial radioactivity could be induced in stable elements by bombarding them with alpha particlesEnrico Fermi(g) reported similar results when bombarding uranium with neutrons.

In 1939, Otto Hahn (g) and Fritz Strassmann (g) in Berlin published that they had discovered that the collision of a neutron with a uranium nucleus produced the element barium as one of its byproducts. Hahn, in a letter to Lise Meitner, called this new reaction a "bursting" of the uranium nucleus. Otto Robert Frisch and Meitner hypothesized that the uranium nucleus had split in two, explained the process, estimated the energy released, and Frisch coined the term fission to describe it.

Many scientists believed that nuclear fission could be weaponized, but they did not know how. They also suspected that Germany was researching that possibility. In late 1939, Leo Szilard wrote the letter for Albert Einstein's signature that resulted in the Manhattan Project which built the atomic bomb.

The work of Frisch and Rudolf Peierls who calculated uranium-235's critical mass and found it to be much smaller than previously thought which meant that a deliverable bomb should be possible. In the February 1940 Frisch–Peierls memorandum they stated that: "The energy liberated in the explosion of such a super-bomb...will, for an instant, produce a temperature comparable to that of the interior of the sun. The blast from such an explosion would destroy life in a wide area. The size of this area is difficult to estimate, but it will probably cover the centre of a big city."

An extraordinary number of 20th century Jewish scientists were drawn into the field of nuclear research. As the Nazi dragnet tightened, dozens of them fled Europe and joined the USA’s Manhattan Project, which built and detonated the first atomic bomb in July 1945

Edgar Sengier (g) was a Belgian businessman and director of the Union Minière du Haut Katanga He is credited with giving the American government access to much of the uranium necessary for the Manhattan Project, much of which was already stored in a Staten Island warehouse due to his foresight to stockpile the ore to prevent it from falling into German hands.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity paved the way for investigation into nuclear fission. In 1939 he urged President Roosevelt to build an atomic bomb before Nazi Germany. In later years he opposed the use of atomic weapons.

Leo Szilard

Leo Szilard, born in Budapest, helped Enrico Fermi conduct the first controlled nuclear chain reaction. He later demanded curbs on atomic weapons.

Niels Bohr was the first to apply quantum theory to explain nuclear structure. Born in Denmark to a Christian father and Jewish mother, Bohr worked with Ernest Rutherford in Britain. He won a Nobel Prize in 1922, and narrowly escaped Denmark in 1943, pursued by Nazis. He worked on the Manhattan Project with his son Aage, yet also sought to limit the spread of nuclear weapons.

J. Robert Oppenheimer US-born theoretical physicist, was chosen to direct the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos in 1942. On July 16, 1945, his team exploded the world’s first atomic bomb. Three months later he resigned as project director and opposed development of the H-bomb. Oppenheimer was accused of Communist sympathies by the McCarthyites, but was exonerated.

Edward Teller led the US team that developed the first hydrogen bomb. Considerably more powerful than the atomic bomb, the H-bomb uses nuclear fusion rather than fission. The first H-bomb was exploded in 1952. Teller later strongly advocated the need for Western nuclear superiority.

Stanisław Marcin Ulam was a Polish scientist in the fields of mathematics and nuclear physics. He participated in the Manhattan Project, originated the Teller–Ulam design of thermonuclear weapons, discovered the concept of the cellular automaton, and suggested nuclear pulse propulsion.

David Eli Lilienthal  was an American attorney and public administrator, best known for his Presidential Appointment to head Tennessee Valley Authority and later the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). He had practiced public utility law and led the Wisconsin Public Utilities Commission.

Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss  was an American businessman, philanthropist, and naval officer who served two terms on the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the second as its chairman. He was a major figure in the development of nuclear weapons, the nuclear energy policy of the United States, and nuclear power in the United States

James Rodney Schlesinger  was an American economist and public servant who was best known for serving as Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975 under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Prior to becoming Secretary of Defense, he served as Chair of Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) from 1971 to 1973, and as CIA Director for a few months in 1973. He became America's first Secretary of Energy under Jimmy Carter in 1977, serving until 1979.

The Atomic Bomb

Many people are strongly opposed to nuclear power both in the form of Atomic or Hydrogen bombs as well as nuclear power reactors. Yes, in the wrong hands the bombs could destroy mankind, and nuclear power could be dangerous and harmful to mankind. The consequences of nuclear power have to be respected, but they are only dangerous in the wrong hands.

The entire U.S. nuclear fleet has never had a problem with nuclear safety. Other problems yes, but not nuclear problems. The submarines are about 300 feet long, and the entire crew lives and works less than 300 feet from a nuclear reactor for 6 months at a time. If their health or their ability to have children were affected by being that close to a nuclear reactor, you would have heard about it! That safety record exists because the US Navy shielded the crew from the nuclear reactor, and took other measures to guarantee the safety of the crew. We have witnessed real problems with commercially produced nuclear reactors because the proper shielding etc. costs money, and that cost would impact profits!

The horrendous loss of lives when the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan devastates many people as it should. However, that needs to be put into perspective. As the Allied forces attacked the island fortresses which the Japanese had built, one thing became very clear. The Japanese would not surrender. Instead, they fought to the death. If allied troops were to invade Japan, the Japanese people would have fought back as best they could. It was estimated that the hand to hand fighting would have cost the lives of a million allied soldiers and the same number of Japanese. The Atomic bomb saved about a million allied soldier lives.

Jews who participated in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings

Jacob Beser was a lieutenant in the United States Army Air Forces who served during World War II. Beser was the radar specialist aboard the Enola Gay on August 6, 1945, when it dropped the Little Boy atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, Beser was a crewmember aboard Bockscar when the Fat Man bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. He was the only person to have served as a strike crew member of both of the 1945 atomic bomb missions.

Enrico Fermi (g) was Italian, Roman Catholic, and was brilliant both as a theoretical physicist and an experimental physicist. Fermi was selected to chair the Theoretical Physics department at the Sapienza University of Rome.

The 1938 racial laws promulgated by Benito Mussolini in order to bring Italian Fascism ideologically closer to German National Socialism prohibited Jews form working for the Government. Many of Fermi’s research assistants were Jewish, so they lost their jobs, and Fermi lost his experimental research staff. Fermi had married a Jewish woman, Laura Capon, whose father was an Admiral in the Italian Navy. Those two reasons are why Fermi came to America. In Chicago, with Walter Zinn, Fermi directed the first controlled nuclear chain reaction in 1942 at the University of Chicago. Ie they created the first Nuclear Reactor.

Nuclear Navy

The pressurized Nuclear Reactor is the dominant design for nuclear reactors used by the US Navy and commercial nuclear power.Alvin Martin Weinberg proposed the pressurized water design based on earlier research by Eugene Paul Wigner.

Hyman G. Rickover Rickover is known as the "Father of the Nuclear Navy”. He directed the original development of naval nuclear propulsion and controlled its operations for three decades as director of the U.S. Naval Reactors office. In addition, he oversaw the development of the Shippingport Atomic Power Station, the world's first commercial pressurized water reactor used for generating commercially available electricity.

Rickover became an early convert to the idea of nuclear marine propulsion, and was the driving force for shifting the Navy's initial focus from applications on destroyers to submarines. Rickover's vision was not initially shared by his immediate superiors: he subsequently bypassed several layers of superior officers, and in 1947 went directly to the Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, also a former submariner. Nimitz immediately understood the potential of nuclear propulsion in submarines and recommended the project to the Secretary of the Navy, John L. Sullivan. Sullivan's endorsement to build the world's first nuclear-powered vessel, USS Nautilus, later caused Rickover to state that Sullivan was "the true father of the Nuclear Navy

Alvin Radkowsky worked on nuclear reactors at the Argonne National Laboratory in the1930s. He was a civilian employee in the US Navy where he was chief scientist of the Bureau of Ships' nuclear propulsion division. In that role he worked closely with Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. Radkowsky was also chief scientist in the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (now Dept. of Energy), Basically, Radkowsky oversaw all the scientific and engineering work which created all the nuclear power plants for the US Nuclear Navy.

Together, Rickover and Radkowsky led the design and construction of the first American Nuclear submarine, the Nautilus, and Shippingport, the first nuclear power generating station.Please insert your text here.