A social history of New Mexico's "Atomic City"
Los Alamos, New Mexico, birthplace of the Atomic Age, is the community that revolutionized modern weaponry and science. An "instant city," created in 1943, Los Alamos quickly grew to accommodate six thousand people--scientists and experts who came to work in the top-secret laboratories, others drawn by jobs in support industries, and the families. How these people, as a community, faced both the fevered rush to create an atomic bomb and the intensity of the subsequent cold-war era is the focus of Jon Hunner's fascinating narrative history.
Much has been written about scientific developments at Los Alamos, but until this book little has been said about the community that fostered them. Using government records and the personal accounts of early residents, Inventing Los Alamos, traces the evolution of the town during its first fifteen years as home to a national laboratory and documents the town's creation, the lives of the families who lived there, and the impact of this small community on the Atomic Age.
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 prot g , 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 Primer finally emerges from the archives to give a new understanding of the very beginning of nuclear weapons. No seminar anywhere has had greater historical consequences.
p>Just as huge nuclear explosions result from small spheres of plutonium, the story of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant near Denver, Colorado is much larger than itself. It is about the Church family, who came West seeking gold in 1861, stayed to raise cattle, watched the federal government take a large piece of its land for the weapons plant in 1951--and now is busily developing real estate in the booming suburbs next to the contaminated plant site. It is about the government and private corporations that produced the deadliest devices in history for thirty-seven years, concealed problems behind the wall of national security secrecy, and came close to a Chernobyl-scale disaster during a 1969 fire. It is about plant managers who cut corners to maintain weapons production, workers who saw themselves as loyal Cold War soldiers, and citizen activists who challenged the plant's very existence. And it is about a community that profited from thousands of jobs and contracts but now faces long-term environmental and health risks.
Making a Real Killing examines the way Americans participated in building a nuclear weapons arsenal capable of destroying the human species. To read it is to learn some sobering lessons, including the fact that the democratic process lagged decades behind technological developments.
"As Americans reckon with the legacy of the Cold War, Making a Real Killing deserves a place at the center of our attention. Len Ackland's integrity and hard work remind us how crucial energetic journalism is for a successful democracy."--Patricia Nelson Limerick
Edward Teller is perhaps best known for his belief in freedom through strong defense. But this extraordinary memoir at last reveals the man behind the headlines--passionate and humorous, devoted and loyal. Never before has Teller told his story as fully as he does here. We learn his true position on everything from the bombing of Japan to the pursuit of weapons research in the post-war years. In clear and compelling prose, Teller chronicles the people and events that shaped him as a scientist, beginning with his early love of music and math, and continuing with his study of quantum physics under Werner Heisenberg. He also describes his relationships with some of the century's greatest minds--Einstein, Bohr, Fermi, Szilard, von Neumann--and offers an honest assessment of the development of the atomic and hydrogen bombs, the founding of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, and his complicated relationship with J. Robert Oppenheimer.Rich and humanizing, this candid memoir describes the events that led Edward Teller to be honored or abhorred, and provides a fascinating perspective on the ability of a single individual to affect the course of history.
Two Washington, D.C., defense reporters do for nukes what Sarah Vowell did for presidential assassinations in this fascinating, kaleidoscopic portrait of nuclear weaponry.
In "A Nuclear Family Vacation," husband-and-wife journalists Sharon Weinberger and Nathan Hodge hit the open road to explore the secretive world of nuclear weaponry. Along the way, they answer the questions most nuclear tourists don't get to ask: Are nuclear weapons still on hair-trigger alert? Is there such a thing as a suitcase nuke? Is Iran really building the bomb? Together, Weinberger and Hodge visit top-secret locations like the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility in Iran, the United States' Kwajalein military outpost in the Marshall Islands, the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, and "Site R," a bunker known as the "Underground Pentagon," rumored to be Vice President Cheney's personal "undisclosed location" of choice. Their atomic road trip reveals plans to revitalize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, even as the United States pushes other countries to disarm. Weaving together travel writing with world-changing events, "A Nuclear Family Vacation" unearths unknown and often quite entertaining stories about the nuclear world."
"There are two problems for our species' survival--nuclear war and environmental catastrophe, " says Noam Chomsky in this new book on the two existential threats of our time and their points of intersection since World War II.While a nuclear strike would require action, environmental catastrophe is partially defined by willful inaction in response to human-induced climate change. Denial of the facts is only half the equation. Other contributing factors include extreme techniques for the extraction of remaining carbon deposits, the elimination of agricultural land for bio-fuel, the construction of dams, and the destruction of forests that are crucial for carbon sequestration. On the subject of current nuclear tensions, Chomsky revisits the long-established option of a nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East, a proposal set in motion through a joint Egyptian Iranian General Assembly resolution in 1974. Intended as a warning, Nuclear War and Environmental Catastrophe is also a reminder that talking about the unspeakable can still be done with humor, with wit and indomitable spirit.
Offering a clear analysis of the danger of nuclear terrorism and how it can be prevented, The Partnership sheds light on one of the most divisive security issues facing Washington today. Award-winning New York Times journalist Philip Taubman illuminates our vulnerability in the face of this pressing terrorist threat--and the unlikely efforts of five key Cold War players to eliminate the nuclear arsenal they helped create. Bob Woodward calls The Partnership a "brilliant, penetrating study of nuclear threats, present and past," and David Kennedy writes that it is "indispensable reading for all who would understand the desperate urgency of containing the menace of nuclear proliferation."