Copyright/published Year: 2012 by WSU Press
On the eve of World War II, news of an astonishing ì breakthrough filtered out of Germany Scientists there had split ì uranium atoms. Researchers in the United States scrambled to ì verify results and further investigate this new science. ì Ominously, they soon recognized its potential to fuel the ì ultimate weapon-one able to release the energy of an uncontrolled ì chain reaction. By 1941, experiments led to the identification of ì plutonium, but laboratory work generated the new element in ì amounts far too small to be useful. Fearing the Nazis were on the ì verge of harnessing nuclear power, President Franklin D. ì Roosevelt gambled on an ambitious project to research and ì manufacture uranium and plutonium for military use.
As research continued, engineers began to construct massive ì buildings in an isolated eastern Washington farming community ì Within two years, Hanford became the world's first plutonium ì factory. The amazingly complex operation was accomplished with a ì speed and secrecy unheard of today; few involved knew what they ì were building. But on August 9, 1945, when the "Fat Man" fell on ì Nagasaki, the workers understood their part in changing the ì world.
Hanford's role did not end there. The facility produced ì plutonium throughout the Cold War. Some was used in tests ì conducted halfway around the world. Nuclear bombs were dropped on ì the Bikini and Enewetak Atolls, profoundly impacting the Marshall ì Islands people and forever altering their way of life.
Through clear scientific explanations and personal ì
reminiscences, Hill Williams traces Hanford's role in the story ì
of the plutonium bomb.
About the author:
Hill Williams was reared in Pasco, Washington. He is a former ì Seattle Times science writer and the award-winning author of the ì WSU Press bestseller, The Restless Northwest.
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