The First Nuclear Era: The Life and Times of a Technological Fixer

Front Cover
Springer Science & Business Media, 1994 - Science - 291 pages
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.

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

An absolutely fantastic book that delves deep into Oak Ridge National Labs and it's early history. It follows many of the interesting and innovative discoveries made there Weinberg is an eloquent narrator who is able to explain technical nuclear issues to a nontechnical audience.


Robert Hutchins University of Chicago Nicolas Rashevsky and Carl Eckart
The Metallurgical Laboratory and Eugene Wigners Hanford
Clinton Laboratories Where Man First Created Huge Quantities of Radioactivity
ORNLs Scientific Centerpiece
Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion
FluidFuel Power Breeders
Economic Nuclear Power is Here?
Desalting the Sea and Other Technological Fixes
The Faustian Bargain
Smolny Institute on the Potomac
Energy Think Tankery
Moonlight Philosophy of Scientific Administration
The Bomb
Could We Have Done Better?

International Euphoria

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1994)

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

Bibliographic information