By Rudolph Herzog
Within the spirit of Dr. Strangelove and The Atomic Café, a blackly sardonic people’s background of atomic mistakes and near-misses revealing the hushed-up and forgotten episodes within which the nice powers gambled with catastropheRudolph Herzog, the acclaimed writer of lifeless humorous, provides a devastating account of history’s so much irresponsible makes use of of nuclear expertise. From the rarely-discussed nightmare of “Broken Arrows” (40 nuclear guns misplaced throughout the chilly battle) to “Operation Plowshare” (a notion to exploit nuclear bombs for big engineering tasks, resembling a the development of a moment Panama Canal utilizing three hundred H-Bombs), Herzog focuses in on long-forgotten nuclear tasks that almost resulted in disaster.In an unparalleled people’s heritage, Herzog digs deep into information, interviews nuclear scientists, and collects dozens of infrequent pictures. He explores the “accidental” drop of a Nagasaki-type bomb on a teach 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 stories of the ultimate period of the chilly struggle in Germany, the rustic as soon as visible because the nuclear battleground for NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations, and discusses proof that Nazi scientists knew how one can make atomic weaponry . . . and selected to not.
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Extra resources for A Short History of Nuclear Folly
Then, on August 29, 1949, things changed abruptly. m. that day, the Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb—without the help of the Sukhumi centrifuge-makers. Kurchatov had simply bypassed the problem of producing uranium 235 by using another fissionable substance, plutonium. Plutonium naturally occurs only in the minutest quantities, but it can be created in nuclear reactors from the energy released when uranium 238 is bombarded with neutrons. The fuel needed to run the reactors is a lower grade of uranium 235, enriched only by a factor of 4 to 5 percent, compared with the 80 to 90 percent needed for an atomic bomb.
But there are enormous radioactive hot-spots in and around the test sites, and it was only in 1990 that details about them became public. The first bits of information came not from official government sources, but as a result of the activities of environmentalists. In the 2004 IAEA report, two Russian scientists write in tones approaching outrage of the “illegal penetration of Greenpeace activists” into test zone B. The “MV Greenpeace” was pursued by the KGB-operated icebreaker 26th Party Conference and a smaller vessel.
To better illustrate this parallel process, I will focus on some of the more extreme examples of nuclear folly and foolishness, including hydrogen bombs that went missing and were never located, cowboys with radiation poisoning, and plutonium in space. My selection process is completely subjective, and I’ve chosen to ignore such familiar topics as Hiroshima, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. My sources are recently released secret documents from the Cold War, personal reminiscences, official evaluations, and press reports from the period.
A Short History of Nuclear Folly by Rudolph Herzog