The First Nuclear Era: The Life and Times of a Technological Fixer (Google eBook)

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Springer Science & Business Media, Jan 1, 1994 - Biography & Autobiography - 291 pages
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The First Nuclear Era is Alvin Weinberg's autobiography, the memoirs of a most influential American nuclear engineer/physicist. These reminiscences date from the dawning of the nuclear age in the early 1940s to the present. It is the story of one notable scientist's life and times and a look back at one of humankind's most ambitious endeavors: the attempt to harness and safely distribute nuclear power.
Weinberg has witnessed and played a major part in many of the defining scientific moments of his era. Here he describes his academic career at the University of Chicago, under the tutelage of Nicolas Rashevsky and Carl Eckart. He recalls his wartime days at the Manhattan Project's Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory where he helped Nobelist Eugene Wigner design the Hanford plutonium producing reactors. He then focuses on what would become the abiding legacy of his professional life: his development of and involvement with nuclear reactors. In discussing both great commercial successes (such as the Light-Water Reactor) and unsuccessful experiments, Weinberg offers an objective critique of the technical and political shortcomings that have haunted the nuclear age. He also demonstrates how the lessons learned from unsuccessful reactors paved the way for later triumphs.
  

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Contents

Robert Hutchins University of Chicago Nicolas Rashevsky and Carl Eckart
1
The Metallurgical Laboratory and Eugene Wigners Hanford
11
Clinton Laboratories Where Man First Created Huge Quantities of Radioactivity
47
ORNLs Scientific Centerpiece
76
Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion
95
FluidFuel Power Breeders
109
Economic Nuclear Power is Here?
132
Desalting the Sea and Other Technological Fixes
142
The Faustian Bargain
175
Smolny Institute on the Potomac
201
Energy Think Tankery
215
Moonlight Philosophy of Scientific Administration
241
The Bomb
256
Could We Have Done Better?
271
Index
283
Copyright

International Euphoria
153

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Page ix - ... range, when we use ordinary reactors, we offer energy that is cheaper than energy from fossil fuel. Moreover, this source of energy, when properly handled, is almost nonpolluting. Whereas fossil fuel burners must emit oxides of carbon and nitrogen, and probably will always emit some sulfur dioxide, there is no intrinsic reason why nuclear systems must emit any pollutant -except heat and traces of radioactivity. But the price that we demand of society for this magical energy source is both a vigilance...
Page ix - On the one hand, we offer— in the catalytic nuclear burner— an inexhaustible source of energy. Even in the short range, when we use ordinary reactors, we offer energy that is cheaper than energy from fossil fuel. Moreover, this source of energy, when properly handled, is almost nonpolluting. Whereas fossil fuel burners must emit oxides of carbon and nitrogen, and probably will always emit some sulfur dioxide, there is no intrinsic reason why nuclear systems must emit any pollutant -except heat...

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About the author (1994)

Alvin Weinberg is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Oak Ridge Associated Universities.

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