Discussion:
Who Goes There? + nuclear fusion
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m***@sky.com
2018-03-30 10:15:01 UTC
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At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a practical neutron source, which the story reckons can be used to harvest nuclear energy by throwing neutrons at almost anything and letting it fission - or at least become radioactive in its turn. Some support for this comes from plans to burn nuclear waste using particle accelerators - http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/accelerator-driven-nuclear-energy.aspx.

Seeing a story yet again claim that nuclear fusion is just around the corner - http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/19652/lockheed-martin-now-has-a-patent-for-its-potentially-world-changing-fusion-reactor I wonder if techniques struggling to get positive energy returns from nuclear fusion could be re-purposed as neutron sources to burn something like nuclear waste and actually get more energy out than in? After all, a Farnsworth fusor is a neutron source - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusor.
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-03-30 13:39:55 UTC
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Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a
practical neutron source, which the story reckons can be used to harvest
nuclear energy by throwing neutrons at almost anything and letting it
fission - or at least become radioactive in its turn. Some support for
this comes from plans to burn nuclear waste using particle accelerators
-
http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/accelerator-driven-nuclear-energy.aspx.
Seeing a story yet again claim that nuclear fusion is just around the
corner -
http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/19652/lockheed-martin-now-has-a-patent-for-its-potentially-world-changing-fusion-reactor I wonder if techniques
struggling to get positive energy returns from nuclear fusion could be
re-purposed as neutron sources to burn something like nuclear waste and
actually get more energy out than in? After all, a Farnsworth fusor is a
neutron source - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusor.
Campbell came up with interesting ideas from time to time, many
of which could not possibly work. There's always the additional
spectra which he turned over to Heinlein to write _Sixth Column._
The Hieronymus machine. The Dean Drive.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
J. Clarke
2018-03-30 14:06:56 UTC
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Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a practical neutron source, which the story reckons can be used to harvest nuclear energy by throwing neutrons at almost anything and letting it fission - or at least become radioactive in its turn. Some support for this comes from plans to burn nuclear waste using particle accelerators - http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/accelerator-driven-nuclear-energy.aspx.
Seeing a story yet again claim that nuclear fusion is just around the corner - http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/19652/lockheed-martin-now-has-a-patent-for-its-potentially-world-changing-fusion-reactor I wonder if techniques struggling to get positive energy returns from nuclear fusion could be re-purposed as neutron sources to burn something like nuclear waste and actually get more energy out than in? After all, a Farnsworth fusor is a neutron source - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusor.
I'll believe that Lockheed knows anything about fusion when they
actually pull it off and not before. As for neutron sources, any
conventional reactor is a neutron source. If that was all it took to
get rid of nuclear waste we'd be rid of it by now.
Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
2018-03-31 14:11:34 UTC
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Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a practical neutron source,
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;
Website: http://www.grandcentralarena.com Blog:
http://seawasp.dreamwidth.org
J. Clarke
2018-03-31 16:47:06 UTC
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On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a practical neutron source,
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
2018-04-01 13:46:03 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a practical neutron source,
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Even 7 years later not very many people knew how it might work. It
wasn't like they broadcast the designs, and there was no Internet to
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;
Website: http://www.grandcentralarena.com Blog:
http://seawasp.dreamwidth.org
Christian Weisgerber
2018-04-01 15:22:30 UTC
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Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
Since I have a copy on my bookshelf, I can confirm that you could
buy a popular science book explaining nuclear energy including the
Manhattan Project as far back as 1950 in Germany.

Giovanni Dogigli, _Entfesselte Naturkraft_
--
Christian "naddy" Weisgerber ***@mips.inka.de
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-04-01 16:28:09 UTC
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Post by m***@sky.com
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a
practical neutron source,
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Even 7 years later not very many people knew how it might work. It
wasn't like they broadcast the designs, and there was no Internet to
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
Which is why the Feds came to Campbell's office demanding to know
how Cartmill had discovered that Top Secret Technology. I wish I
had been a fly on the wall to have heard how Campbell persuaded
them that it would be suspicious if science-fiction writers were
*not* speculating about atomic bombs.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
J. Clarke
2018-04-01 18:03:49 UTC
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Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a
practical neutron source,
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Even 7 years later not very many people knew how it might work. It
wasn't like they broadcast the designs, and there was no Internet to
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
Which is why the Feds came to Campbell's office demanding to know
how Cartmill had discovered that Top Secret Technology. I wish I
had been a fly on the wall to have heard how Campbell persuaded
them that it would be suspicious if science-fiction writers were
*not* speculating about atomic bombs.
I wonder if Campbell showed them the various papers that had been
published in well known journals that led to the notion of it. Classic
example of government stupidity--by investigating something that could
be figured out from spending some time in any good engineering library
they let the cat out of the bag that they were seriously working on
it.
Johnny1A
2018-04-01 18:25:37 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a
practical neutron source,
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Even 7 years later not very many people knew how it might work. It
wasn't like they broadcast the designs, and there was no Internet to
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
Which is why the Feds came to Campbell's office demanding to know
how Cartmill had discovered that Top Secret Technology. I wish I
had been a fly on the wall to have heard how Campbell persuaded
them that it would be suspicious if science-fiction writers were
*not* speculating about atomic bombs.
I wonder if Campbell showed them the various papers that had been
published in well known journals that led to the notion of it. Classic
example of government stupidity--by investigating something that could
be figured out from spending some time in any good engineering library
they let the cat out of the bag that they were seriously working on
it.
To be charitable, we should keep in mind that there's a very good chance that the security people themselves had little to no idea how such a bomb would work, or only at best a layman's idea that probably wasn't as clear as a 'serious layman's grasp' of nuclear tech today. Someone saw a story that involved technology that looked remarkably close to that understanding, and probably had no idea how it was arrived at.

(Assuming, of course, that this whole story doesn't have apocryphal elements.)
J. Clarke
2018-04-01 18:32:06 UTC
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On Sun, 1 Apr 2018 11:25:37 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a
practical neutron source,
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Even 7 years later not very many people knew how it might work. It
wasn't like they broadcast the designs, and there was no Internet to
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
Which is why the Feds came to Campbell's office demanding to know
how Cartmill had discovered that Top Secret Technology. I wish I
had been a fly on the wall to have heard how Campbell persuaded
them that it would be suspicious if science-fiction writers were
*not* speculating about atomic bombs.
I wonder if Campbell showed them the various papers that had been
published in well known journals that led to the notion of it. Classic
example of government stupidity--by investigating something that could
be figured out from spending some time in any good engineering library
they let the cat out of the bag that they were seriously working on
it.
To be charitable, we should keep in mind that there's a very good chance that the security people themselves had little to no idea how such a bomb would work, or only at best a layman's idea that probably wasn't as clear as a 'serious layman's grasp' of nuclear tech today. Someone saw a story that involved technology that looked remarkably close to that understanding, and probably had no idea how it was arrived at.
That's the thing. Before making leaks of themselves they should have
been finding out how someone might obtain the information by, for
example, showing the story to one of Fermi's acolytes and asking if it
contained anything that wasn't public knowledge.

Feynman had a low opinion of the security people associated with the
Manhattan Project--their reaction to just about any problem seemed to
be to take the stupidest of several choices.
Post by Johnny1A
(Assuming, of course, that this whole story doesn't have apocryphal elements.)
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-04-02 06:36:27 UTC
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On Sun, 01 Apr 2018 14:32:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 1 Apr 2018 11:25:37 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a
practical neutron source,
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Even 7 years later not very many people knew how it might work. It
wasn't like they broadcast the designs, and there was no Internet to
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
Which is why the Feds came to Campbell's office demanding to know
how Cartmill had discovered that Top Secret Technology. I wish I
had been a fly on the wall to have heard how Campbell persuaded
them that it would be suspicious if science-fiction writers were
*not* speculating about atomic bombs.
I wonder if Campbell showed them the various papers that had been
published in well known journals that led to the notion of it. Classic
example of government stupidity--by investigating something that could
be figured out from spending some time in any good engineering library
they let the cat out of the bag that they were seriously working on
it.
To be charitable, we should keep in mind that there's a very good chance that the security people themselves had little to no idea how such a bomb would work, or only at best a layman's idea that probably wasn't as clear as a 'serious layman's grasp' of nuclear tech today. Someone saw a story that involved technology that looked remarkably close to that understanding, and probably had no idea how it was arrived at.
That's the thing. Before making leaks of themselves they should have
been finding out how someone might obtain the information by, for
example, showing the story to one of Fermi's acolytes and asking if it
contained anything that wasn't public knowledge.
I think you're looking at this the wrong way around. The security
people had to consider the possibility that someone on the Project was
babbling, and check whether Cartmill got his information from public
sources, or from some drunk physicist. It's not that they didn't
think it was possible to get it from legitimate sources; they ALSO
thought it was possible there was a leak that needed to be found and
shut down.
Post by J. Clarke
Feynman had a low opinion of the security people associated with the
Manhattan Project--their reaction to just about any problem seemed to
be to take the stupidest of several choices.
My parents weren't very impressed by them either. They had lots of
stories about stupid things people associated with the Manhattan
Project did, many of them involving the security folks.

For one thing, they were so worried about German spies that they
simply ignored any evidence of Soviet spies. The Germans never
managed to get anything about the Project, where it was rotten with
Soviet agents.

Of course, at the time the Soviets were our allies. Some people on
the Project took it for granted that we would share the results of our
research with our allies once the war was over. (Yes, this was very,
very naive, but a lot of the people were not much more than kids. My
parents were just out of college, and they were by no means the most
junior.)
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Johnny1A
(Assuming, of course, that this whole story doesn't have apocryphal elements.)
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
J. Clarke
2018-04-02 07:28:23 UTC
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On Mon, 02 Apr 2018 02:36:27 -0400, Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 01 Apr 2018 14:32:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 1 Apr 2018 11:25:37 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a
practical neutron source,
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Even 7 years later not very many people knew how it might work. It
wasn't like they broadcast the designs, and there was no Internet to
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
Which is why the Feds came to Campbell's office demanding to know
how Cartmill had discovered that Top Secret Technology. I wish I
had been a fly on the wall to have heard how Campbell persuaded
them that it would be suspicious if science-fiction writers were
*not* speculating about atomic bombs.
I wonder if Campbell showed them the various papers that had been
published in well known journals that led to the notion of it. Classic
example of government stupidity--by investigating something that could
be figured out from spending some time in any good engineering library
they let the cat out of the bag that they were seriously working on
it.
To be charitable, we should keep in mind that there's a very good chance that the security people themselves had little to no idea how such a bomb would work, or only at best a layman's idea that probably wasn't as clear as a 'serious layman's grasp' of nuclear tech today. Someone saw a story that involved technology that looked remarkably close to that understanding, and probably had no idea how it was arrived at.
That's the thing. Before making leaks of themselves they should have
been finding out how someone might obtain the information by, for
example, showing the story to one of Fermi's acolytes and asking if it
contained anything that wasn't public knowledge.
I think you're looking at this the wrong way around. The security
people had to consider the possibility that someone on the Project was
babbling, and check whether Cartmill got his information from public
sources, or from some drunk physicist. It's not that they didn't
think it was possible to get it from legitimate sources; they ALSO
thought it was possible there was a leak that needed to be found and
shut down.
If Cartmill had contact with "some drunk physicist" then they had
bigger problems that "drunk physicists". There was physical
isolation--he would have had to get _into_ Los Alamos and then having
gotten _in_ then gotten _out_.
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by J. Clarke
Feynman had a low opinion of the security people associated with the
Manhattan Project--their reaction to just about any problem seemed to
be to take the stupidest of several choices.
My parents weren't very impressed by them either. They had lots of
stories about stupid things people associated with the Manhattan
Project did, many of them involving the security folks.
For one thing, they were so worried about German spies that they
simply ignored any evidence of Soviet spies. The Germans never
managed to get anything about the Project, where it was rotten with
Soviet agents.
Of course, at the time the Soviets were our allies. Some people on
the Project took it for granted that we would share the results of our
research with our allies once the war was over. (Yes, this was very,
very naive, but a lot of the people were not much more than kids. My
parents were just out of college, and they were by no means the most
junior.)
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Johnny1A
(Assuming, of course, that this whole story doesn't have apocryphal elements.)
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-04-02 09:26:55 UTC
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On Mon, 02 Apr 2018 03:28:23 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Mon, 02 Apr 2018 02:36:27 -0400, Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 01 Apr 2018 14:32:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 1 Apr 2018 11:25:37 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a
practical neutron source,
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Even 7 years later not very many people knew how it might work. It
wasn't like they broadcast the designs, and there was no Internet to
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
Which is why the Feds came to Campbell's office demanding to know
how Cartmill had discovered that Top Secret Technology. I wish I
had been a fly on the wall to have heard how Campbell persuaded
them that it would be suspicious if science-fiction writers were
*not* speculating about atomic bombs.
I wonder if Campbell showed them the various papers that had been
published in well known journals that led to the notion of it. Classic
example of government stupidity--by investigating something that could
be figured out from spending some time in any good engineering library
they let the cat out of the bag that they were seriously working on
it.
To be charitable, we should keep in mind that there's a very good chance that the security people themselves had little to no idea how such a bomb would work, or only at best a layman's idea that probably wasn't as clear as a 'serious layman's grasp' of nuclear tech today. Someone saw a story that involved technology that looked remarkably close to that understanding, and probably had no idea how it was arrived at.
That's the thing. Before making leaks of themselves they should have
been finding out how someone might obtain the information by, for
example, showing the story to one of Fermi's acolytes and asking if it
contained anything that wasn't public knowledge.
I think you're looking at this the wrong way around. The security
people had to consider the possibility that someone on the Project was
babbling, and check whether Cartmill got his information from public
sources, or from some drunk physicist. It's not that they didn't
think it was possible to get it from legitimate sources; they ALSO
thought it was possible there was a leak that needed to be found and
shut down.
If Cartmill had contact with "some drunk physicist" then they had
bigger problems that "drunk physicists". There was physical
isolation--he would have had to get _into_ Los Alamos and then having
gotten _in_ then gotten _out_.
Not true. Los Alamos was only part of the Project. My parents were
in the Metals Division, which was based in a Nash assembly plant in
upper Manhattan that had been set up by Columbia University. Which
was where the name "Manhattan Project" came from, but it was shut down
completely and as thoroughly erased as possible in August 1945.

There was also Oak Ridge, Tenn. And Hanford, Wash. And probably
others I'm forgetting.

There were people at each site who knew everything Cartmill used.
Didn't need to be Los Alamos.
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by J. Clarke
Feynman had a low opinion of the security people associated with the
Manhattan Project--their reaction to just about any problem seemed to
be to take the stupidest of several choices.
My parents weren't very impressed by them either. They had lots of
stories about stupid things people associated with the Manhattan
Project did, many of them involving the security folks.
For one thing, they were so worried about German spies that they
simply ignored any evidence of Soviet spies. The Germans never
managed to get anything about the Project, where it was rotten with
Soviet agents.
Of course, at the time the Soviets were our allies. Some people on
the Project took it for granted that we would share the results of our
research with our allies once the war was over. (Yes, this was very,
very naive, but a lot of the people were not much more than kids. My
parents were just out of college, and they were by no means the most
junior.)
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Johnny1A
(Assuming, of course, that this whole story doesn't have apocryphal elements.)
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
J. Clarke
2018-04-02 08:37:21 UTC
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On Mon, 02 Apr 2018 05:26:55 -0400, Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Mon, 02 Apr 2018 03:28:23 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Mon, 02 Apr 2018 02:36:27 -0400, Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 01 Apr 2018 14:32:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 1 Apr 2018 11:25:37 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a
practical neutron source,
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Even 7 years later not very many people knew how it might work. It
wasn't like they broadcast the designs, and there was no Internet to
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
Which is why the Feds came to Campbell's office demanding to know
how Cartmill had discovered that Top Secret Technology. I wish I
had been a fly on the wall to have heard how Campbell persuaded
them that it would be suspicious if science-fiction writers were
*not* speculating about atomic bombs.
I wonder if Campbell showed them the various papers that had been
published in well known journals that led to the notion of it. Classic
example of government stupidity--by investigating something that could
be figured out from spending some time in any good engineering library
they let the cat out of the bag that they were seriously working on
it.
To be charitable, we should keep in mind that there's a very good chance that the security people themselves had little to no idea how such a bomb would work, or only at best a layman's idea that probably wasn't as clear as a 'serious layman's grasp' of nuclear tech today. Someone saw a story that involved technology that looked remarkably close to that understanding, and probably had no idea how it was arrived at.
That's the thing. Before making leaks of themselves they should have
been finding out how someone might obtain the information by, for
example, showing the story to one of Fermi's acolytes and asking if it
contained anything that wasn't public knowledge.
I think you're looking at this the wrong way around. The security
people had to consider the possibility that someone on the Project was
babbling, and check whether Cartmill got his information from public
sources, or from some drunk physicist. It's not that they didn't
think it was possible to get it from legitimate sources; they ALSO
thought it was possible there was a leak that needed to be found and
shut down.
If Cartmill had contact with "some drunk physicist" then they had
bigger problems that "drunk physicists". There was physical
isolation--he would have had to get _into_ Los Alamos and then having
gotten _in_ then gotten _out_.
Not true. Los Alamos was only part of the Project. My parents were
in the Metals Division, which was based in a Nash assembly plant in
upper Manhattan that had been set up by Columbia University. Which
was where the name "Manhattan Project" came from, but it was shut down
completely and as thoroughly erased as possible in August 1945.
There was also Oak Ridge, Tenn. And Hanford, Wash. And probably
others I'm forgetting.
There were people at each site who knew everything Cartmill used.
Didn't need to be Los Alamos.
There were people at any decent university who knew everything that
Cartmill used because he didn't use anything classified. The people
who knew how to build the bomb were sequestered at Los Alamos. The
others might have known a great deal about nuclear reactions but they
didn't know how to build a bomb.
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by J. Clarke
Feynman had a low opinion of the security people associated with the
Manhattan Project--their reaction to just about any problem seemed to
be to take the stupidest of several choices.
My parents weren't very impressed by them either. They had lots of
stories about stupid things people associated with the Manhattan
Project did, many of them involving the security folks.
For one thing, they were so worried about German spies that they
simply ignored any evidence of Soviet spies. The Germans never
managed to get anything about the Project, where it was rotten with
Soviet agents.
Of course, at the time the Soviets were our allies. Some people on
the Project took it for granted that we would share the results of our
research with our allies once the war was over. (Yes, this was very,
very naive, but a lot of the people were not much more than kids. My
parents were just out of college, and they were by no means the most
junior.)
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Johnny1A
(Assuming, of course, that this whole story doesn't have apocryphal elements.)
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-04-02 17:16:54 UTC
Reply
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On Mon, 02 Apr 2018 04:37:21 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Mon, 02 Apr 2018 05:26:55 -0400, Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Mon, 02 Apr 2018 03:28:23 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Mon, 02 Apr 2018 02:36:27 -0400, Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 01 Apr 2018 14:32:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 1 Apr 2018 11:25:37 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a
practical neutron source,
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Even 7 years later not very many people knew how it might work. It
wasn't like they broadcast the designs, and there was no Internet to
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
Which is why the Feds came to Campbell's office demanding to know
how Cartmill had discovered that Top Secret Technology. I wish I
had been a fly on the wall to have heard how Campbell persuaded
them that it would be suspicious if science-fiction writers were
*not* speculating about atomic bombs.
I wonder if Campbell showed them the various papers that had been
published in well known journals that led to the notion of it. Classic
example of government stupidity--by investigating something that could
be figured out from spending some time in any good engineering library
they let the cat out of the bag that they were seriously working on
it.
To be charitable, we should keep in mind that there's a very good chance that the security people themselves had little to no idea how such a bomb would work, or only at best a layman's idea that probably wasn't as clear as a 'serious layman's grasp' of nuclear tech today. Someone saw a story that involved technology that looked remarkably close to that understanding, and probably had no idea how it was arrived at.
That's the thing. Before making leaks of themselves they should have
been finding out how someone might obtain the information by, for
example, showing the story to one of Fermi's acolytes and asking if it
contained anything that wasn't public knowledge.
I think you're looking at this the wrong way around. The security
people had to consider the possibility that someone on the Project was
babbling, and check whether Cartmill got his information from public
sources, or from some drunk physicist. It's not that they didn't
think it was possible to get it from legitimate sources; they ALSO
thought it was possible there was a leak that needed to be found and
shut down.
If Cartmill had contact with "some drunk physicist" then they had
bigger problems that "drunk physicists". There was physical
isolation--he would have had to get _into_ Los Alamos and then having
gotten _in_ then gotten _out_.
Not true. Los Alamos was only part of the Project. My parents were
in the Metals Division, which was based in a Nash assembly plant in
upper Manhattan that had been set up by Columbia University. Which
was where the name "Manhattan Project" came from, but it was shut down
completely and as thoroughly erased as possible in August 1945.
There was also Oak Ridge, Tenn. And Hanford, Wash. And probably
others I'm forgetting.
There were people at each site who knew everything Cartmill used.
Didn't need to be Los Alamos.
There were people at any decent university who knew everything that
Cartmill used because he didn't use anything classified. The people
who knew how to build the bomb were sequestered at Los Alamos. The
others might have known a great deal about nuclear reactions but they
didn't know how to build a bomb.
Yeah, but people at other sites still might have been leaking stuff
they shouldn't. My Dad certainly knew plenty of classified material.
(He had a Q clearance. My mother's clearance was L.)

It isn't that security was worried that someone had told Cartmill how
to build a bomb; the concern was that someone on the Project was being
careless and saying things they shouldn't.
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
Ahasuerus
2018-04-02 16:01:24 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 01 Apr 2018 14:32:06 -0400, J. Clarke
[snip-snip]
Post by J. Clarke
Feynman had a low opinion of the security people associated with the
Manhattan Project--their reaction to just about any problem seemed to
be to take the stupidest of several choices.
My parents weren't very impressed by them either. They had lots of
stories about stupid things people associated with the Manhattan
Project did, many of them involving the security folks.
For one thing, they were so worried about German spies that they
simply ignored any evidence of Soviet spies. The Germans never
managed to get anything about the Project, where it was rotten with
Soviet agents.
The FBI and Army security did a great deal of work to deter Soviet
penetration of the Project. For example, they identified the Soviet
vice-consul in San Francisco, Grigory Kheifets, as an intelligence
officer, wiretapped his phone and followed him everywhere. Ditto
Steve Nelson, who was the head of the Communist Party operations
in the Bay Area as well as a Soviet agent reporting to Peter Ivanov,
another intelligence officer at the Soviet consulate. Nelson's phone
and residence were wiretapped as well.

As a direct result of this surveillance, the FBI and the Army were
able to thwart many early Soviet attempts to penetrate the Manhattan
Project. For example, Joseph Weinberg (physicist and Communist Party
member) met Nelson on March 29, 1943 and they discussed Weinberg's
future role in the development of the Bomb. The FBI recorded most of
the conversation and passed the information on to Oppenheimer, who
cancelled the invitation to move to Los Alamos which had been
previously extended to Weinberg.

Similarly, Kheifits and Grigory Kasparov (another Soviet intelligence
officer) had lunch with Martin Kamen on July 2, 1944. Kamen was a
chemist working on the Manhattan Project. He was not a Communist Party
member, but he was pro-Soviet and willing to discuss atomic research
with the Soviets. He later claimed that he had limited his disclosures
to non-classified topics, but the FBI notes contradicted his claims.
He was fired on July 12.
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Of course, at the time the Soviets were our allies. Some people on
the Project took it for granted that we would share the results of our
research with our allies once the war was over. (Yes, this was very,
very naive, but a lot of the people were not much more than kids. My
parents were just out of college, and they were by no means the most
junior.)
Case in point: Theodore Hall, who was 18 when he graduated and was
immediately recruited to work at Los Alamos. He was 19 when he, with
the help of his Harvard roommate and another Communist, Saville Sax,
contacted Sergei Kurnakov in New York City and passed information about
the Project to him.
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-04-02 17:21:04 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Raw Message
On Mon, 2 Apr 2018 09:01:24 -0700 (PDT), Ahasuerus
Post by Ahasuerus
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 01 Apr 2018 14:32:06 -0400, J. Clarke
[snip-snip]
Post by J. Clarke
Feynman had a low opinion of the security people associated with the
Manhattan Project--their reaction to just about any problem seemed to
be to take the stupidest of several choices.
My parents weren't very impressed by them either. They had lots of
stories about stupid things people associated with the Manhattan
Project did, many of them involving the security folks.
For one thing, they were so worried about German spies that they
simply ignored any evidence of Soviet spies. The Germans never
managed to get anything about the Project, where it was rotten with
Soviet agents.
The FBI and Army security did a great deal of work to deter Soviet
penetration of the Project. For example, they identified the Soviet
vice-consul in San Francisco, Grigory Kheifets, as an intelligence
officer, wiretapped his phone and followed him everywhere. Ditto
Steve Nelson, who was the head of the Communist Party operations
in the Bay Area as well as a Soviet agent reporting to Peter Ivanov,
another intelligence officer at the Soviet consulate. Nelson's phone
and residence were wiretapped as well.
As a direct result of this surveillance, the FBI and the Army were
able to thwart many early Soviet attempts to penetrate the Manhattan
Project. For example, Joseph Weinberg (physicist and Communist Party
member) met Nelson on March 29, 1943 and they discussed Weinberg's
future role in the development of the Bomb. The FBI recorded most of
the conversation and passed the information on to Oppenheimer, who
cancelled the invitation to move to Los Alamos which had been
previously extended to Weinberg.
Similarly, Kheifits and Grigory Kasparov (another Soviet intelligence
officer) had lunch with Martin Kamen on July 2, 1944. Kamen was a
chemist working on the Manhattan Project. He was not a Communist Party
member, but he was pro-Soviet and willing to discuss atomic research
with the Soviets. He later claimed that he had limited his disclosures
to non-classified topics, but the FBI notes contradicted his claims.
He was fired on July 12.
Sounds as if the FBI and Army were doing a lot better in the west than
they were in New York, which is where my parents (mostly) were. (Dad
was at Oak Ridge for awhile. Mother never was.)
Post by Ahasuerus
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Of course, at the time the Soviets were our allies. Some people on
the Project took it for granted that we would share the results of our
research with our allies once the war was over. (Yes, this was very,
very naive, but a lot of the people were not much more than kids. My
parents were just out of college, and they were by no means the most
junior.)
Case in point: Theodore Hall, who was 18 when he graduated and was
immediately recruited to work at Los Alamos. He was 19 when he, with
the help of his Harvard roommate and another Communist, Saville Sax,
contacted Sergei Kurnakov in New York City and passed information about
the Project to him.
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
Ahasuerus
2018-04-02 17:26:41 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Mon, 2 Apr 2018 09:01:24 -0700 (PDT), Ahasuerus
Post by Ahasuerus
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 01 Apr 2018 14:32:06 -0400, J. Clarke
[snip-snip]
Post by J. Clarke
Feynman had a low opinion of the security people associated with the
Manhattan Project--their reaction to just about any problem seemed to
be to take the stupidest of several choices.
My parents weren't very impressed by them either. They had lots of
stories about stupid things people associated with the Manhattan
Project did, many of them involving the security folks.
For one thing, they were so worried about German spies that they
simply ignored any evidence of Soviet spies. The Germans never
managed to get anything about the Project, where it was rotten with
Soviet agents.
The FBI and Army security did a great deal of work to deter Soviet
penetration of the Project. For example, they identified the Soviet
vice-consul in San Francisco, Grigory Kheifets, as an intelligence
officer, wiretapped his phone and followed him everywhere. Ditto
Steve Nelson, who was the head of the Communist Party operations
in the Bay Area as well as a Soviet agent reporting to Peter Ivanov,
another intelligence officer at the Soviet consulate. Nelson's phone
and residence were wiretapped as well.
As a direct result of this surveillance, the FBI and the Army were
able to thwart many early Soviet attempts to penetrate the Manhattan
Project. For example, Joseph Weinberg (physicist and Communist Party
member) met Nelson on March 29, 1943 and they discussed Weinberg's
future role in the development of the Bomb. The FBI recorded most of
the conversation and passed the information on to Oppenheimer, who
cancelled the invitation to move to Los Alamos which had been
previously extended to Weinberg.
Similarly, Kheifits and Grigory Kasparov (another Soviet intelligence
officer) had lunch with Martin Kamen on July 2, 1944. Kamen was a
chemist working on the Manhattan Project. He was not a Communist Party
member, but he was pro-Soviet and willing to discuss atomic research
with the Soviets. He later claimed that he had limited his disclosures
to non-classified topics, but the FBI notes contradicted his claims.
He was fired on July 12.
Sounds as if the FBI and Army were doing a lot better in the west than
they were in New York, which is where my parents (mostly) were. (Dad
was at Oak Ridge for awhile. Mother never was.) [snip]
The West Coast folks may have been lucky. According to some accounts,
although Kheifits was a very experienced intelligence officer, he was
not nearly as good as he thought he was.

On the other hand, the Soviet intelligence networks in DC were primarily
run by Communist amateurs like Golos, Bentley, Silvermaster, and Perlo.
As you would expect from amateurs, they made a number of basic mistakes
and yet they remained undetected during the war. Eventually it came back
to bite them (Bentley's defection forced the Soviets to put the networks
on ice because she knew way more than she should have), but by then
the damage had been done.

In the Army/FBI folks' defense, they weren't completely oblivious, but
their attempts to prevent Communist infiltration were thwarted by
highly placed Communists and Soviet sources like Baldwin, Currie and
White -- see the Silvermaster affair.

Ahasuerus
2018-04-01 18:44:18 UTC
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[snip-snip]
Post by Johnny1A
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Which is why the Feds came to Campbell's office demanding to know
how Cartmill had discovered that Top Secret Technology. I wish I
had been a fly on the wall to have heard how Campbell persuaded
them that it would be suspicious if science-fiction writers were
*not* speculating about atomic bombs.
I wonder if Campbell showed them the various papers that had been
published in well known journals that led to the notion of it.
Classic example of government stupidity--by investigating something
that could be figured out from spending some time in any good
engineering library they let the cat out of the bag that they were
seriously working on it.
To be charitable, we should keep in mind that there's a very good
chance that the security people themselves had little to no idea how
such a bomb would work, or only at best a layman's idea that probably
wasn't as clear as a 'serious layman's grasp' of nuclear tech today.
Someone saw a story that involved technology that looked remarkably
close to that understanding, and probably had no idea how it was
arrived at.
(Assuming, of course, that this whole story doesn't have apocryphal elements.)
The details of the Cartmill misadventure have been known since 1983
thanks to the Freedom of Information Act. See Albert J. Berger's 1984
article in _Analog_, which is available online --
http://www.gwern.net/docs/radiance/1984-berger.djvu
Kevrob
2018-04-01 20:38:12 UTC
Reply
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Raw Message
Post by Ahasuerus
[snip-snip]
Post by Johnny1A
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Which is why the Feds came to Campbell's office demanding to know
how Cartmill had discovered that Top Secret Technology. I wish I
had been a fly on the wall to have heard how Campbell persuaded
them that it would be suspicious if science-fiction writers were
*not* speculating about atomic bombs.
I wonder if Campbell showed them the various papers that had been
published in well known journals that led to the notion of it.
Classic example of government stupidity--by investigating something
that could be figured out from spending some time in any good
engineering library they let the cat out of the bag that they were
seriously working on it.
To be charitable, we should keep in mind that there's a very good
chance that the security people themselves had little to no idea how
such a bomb would work, or only at best a layman's idea that probably
wasn't as clear as a 'serious layman's grasp' of nuclear tech today.
Someone saw a story that involved technology that looked remarkably
close to that understanding, and probably had no idea how it was
arrived at.
(Assuming, of course, that this whole story doesn't have apocryphal elements.)
The details of the Cartmill misadventure have been known since 1983
thanks to the Freedom of Information Act. See Albert J. Berger's 1984
article in _Analog_, which is available online --
http://www.gwern.net/docs/radiance/1984-berger.djvu
The Feds visited DC Comics, and had them suppress a story where
Luthor attacks Superman with a hand-grenade-sized "atomic bomb."
"Battle of The Atoms," was eventually published in SUPERMAN V1 #38,
Jan-Feb 194, released in October `45.

I bought issue 243 off the rack in the 7-11 back in 1971, which
reprinted it. Some people hated the Golden age reprints in early
70s "52-page" DCs, but I loved them.

https://www.comics.org/issue/4800/cover/4/ Issue 38

https://www.comics.org/issue/24554/cover/4/ Issue 243

The cover story, "The starry-Eyed Siren of Space," written by Cary Bates,
owes a great deal to Star Trek, notably "Return To Tomorrow."

I really appreciated cover artist Neal Adams' sexy space siren at age
15, too!

Alvin Schwartz had written a continuity for the newspaper
strip in `45 that featured a cyclotron, which was also
investigated. The "secret research documents" that had
inspired the writer? An article from years before in
POPULAR MECHANICS.

See: "Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed"
by Brian Cronin

https://books.google.com/books?id=eKLNpPMHF5cC&pg=PA12&lpg=PA12&dq=brian+cronin+superman+atom+bomb&source=bl&ots=eNmTQUbRwh&sig=h_rb6U8ypuFq9Qxw2UMBX6mikwY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiU5eDa8JnaAhUGslMKHar4A8oQ6AEISzAL#v=onepage&q=brian%20cronin%20superman%20atom%20bomb&f=false

Kevin R
Christian Weisgerber
2018-04-02 00:19:32 UTC
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Post by Kevrob
The Feds visited DC Comics, and had them suppress a story where
Luthor attacks Superman with a hand-grenade-sized "atomic bomb."
"Battle of The Atoms," was eventually published in SUPERMAN V1 #38,
Jan-Feb 194, released in October `45.
In _Captain Future's Challenge_, originally published in 1940,
somewhere on the first few pages, the solar shield of the gravium
mine on Mercury is attacked:

A black space-cruiser was diving down out of the brassy sky.
It roared over the “halo”-shrouded mine, and a small black object
dropped from the cruiser toward the “halo” radiator.
Next moment, with a roar and flash of white fire, the big radiator
mechanism flew to fragments.
“An atomic bomb!” yelled the Mercurian. “This means death for—”
Even as he realized the imminence of death, he died. The fearful
solar heat, striking the little mine-settlement as its screen of
protective vibrations was destroyed, reduced that young Mercurian's
body to a charred black cinder instantaneously.

(Quoted from a Google Books partial view of an e-book version.)

I guess it's possible that this was only added in a later edition,
but the text above makes me think it was written by somebody who
thought an “atomic” bomb sounded cool and did not yet know how
destructive they would turn out to be.
--
Christian "naddy" Weisgerber ***@mips.inka.de
D B Davis
2018-04-02 03:52:46 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Christian Weisgerber
Post by Kevrob
The Feds visited DC Comics, and had them suppress a story where
Luthor attacks Superman with a hand-grenade-sized "atomic bomb."
"Battle of The Atoms," was eventually published in SUPERMAN V1 #38,
Jan-Feb 194, released in October `45.
In _Captain Future's Challenge_, originally published in 1940,
somewhere on the first few pages, the solar shield of the gravium
A black space-cruiser was diving down out of the brassy sky.
It roared over the "halo"-shrouded mine, and a small black object
dropped from the cruiser toward the "halo" radiator.
Next moment, with a roar and flash of white fire, the big radiator
mechanism flew to fragments.
"An atomic bomb!" yelled the Mercurian. "This means death for-"
Even as he realized the imminence of death, he died. The fearful
solar heat, striking the little mine-settlement as its screen of
protective vibrations was destroyed, reduced that young Mercurian's
body to a charred black cinder instantaneously.
(Quoted from a Google Books partial view of an e-book version.)
I guess it's possible that this was only added in a later edition,
but the text above makes me think it was written by somebody who
thought an "atomic" bomb sounded cool and did not yet know how
destructive they would turn out to be.
The "radio-active" bomb blast in "The Time Valve" (Breuer, July 1930)
anticipates both the destructive power and the radioactive half-life of
an atomic bomb. Repost of an excerpt:

Soon they were among low, rounded mounds of sand. There were
long rows of these mounds, and aisles between them, intersecting
each other at right angles. Here and there were larger mounds or
empty spaces that interrupted the symmetry. Streets between mounds
of sand! Eventually it struck Wendelin that he was on the site of
Chicago. And only that evening did the full power of the
realization strike him. Chicago! There was nothing left of it but
low mounds of sand.

The little cavalcade stopped among the mounds and the priests
would go no further. The God of Light would burn off their
hands and feet and all their hair would fall out and they
would go blind, they said. But they were willing to wait right
here until night, and watch the beam of colors, from pale-violet
to deep red, spreading upwards toward the zenith. At this
distance there was a steady rumbling, roaring, rushing sound,
and a trembling of the earth, that kept up day and night.

Wendelin lay there that night, and solved the question in his
mind. Thousands of years ago, Chicago had been destroyed by a
radio-active bomb, which was still exploding. He had heard of
continuous explosives; radioactive materials which, once set
exploding, would continue to explode; and in ten thousand
years would be only half destroyed; in the the next ten
thousand, half the remainder would be exploded, and so on.
There must have been some terrific warfare in that part of
Time which he had bridged. The wars had left behind only
mounds of sand and savages, and a bomb that after thousands
of years was still destroying itself.

Thank you,

--
Don
J. Clarke
2018-04-02 04:07:14 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by D B Davis
Post by Christian Weisgerber
Post by Kevrob
The Feds visited DC Comics, and had them suppress a story where
Luthor attacks Superman with a hand-grenade-sized "atomic bomb."
"Battle of The Atoms," was eventually published in SUPERMAN V1 #38,
Jan-Feb 194, released in October `45.
In _Captain Future's Challenge_, originally published in 1940,
somewhere on the first few pages, the solar shield of the gravium
A black space-cruiser was diving down out of the brassy sky.
It roared over the "halo"-shrouded mine, and a small black object
dropped from the cruiser toward the "halo" radiator.
Next moment, with a roar and flash of white fire, the big radiator
mechanism flew to fragments.
"An atomic bomb!" yelled the Mercurian. "This means death for-"
Even as he realized the imminence of death, he died. The fearful
solar heat, striking the little mine-settlement as its screen of
protective vibrations was destroyed, reduced that young Mercurian's
body to a charred black cinder instantaneously.
(Quoted from a Google Books partial view of an e-book version.)
I guess it's possible that this was only added in a later edition,
but the text above makes me think it was written by somebody who
thought an "atomic" bomb sounded cool and did not yet know how
destructive they would turn out to be.
The "radio-active" bomb blast in "The Time Valve" (Breuer, July 1930)
anticipates both the destructive power and the radioactive half-life of
an atomic bomb.
For certain values. The medical effects were well known by that time
as the result of a major lawsuit then in progress. The half-life of
radioactive elements was discovered in 1907. The "continuous
explosion" is a fabrication presumably based on a flawed understanding
of nuclear processes.
Post by D B Davis
Soon they were among low, rounded mounds of sand. There were
long rows of these mounds, and aisles between them, intersecting
each other at right angles. Here and there were larger mounds or
empty spaces that interrupted the symmetry. Streets between mounds
of sand! Eventually it struck Wendelin that he was on the site of
Chicago. And only that evening did the full power of the
realization strike him. Chicago! There was nothing left of it but
low mounds of sand.
The little cavalcade stopped among the mounds and the priests
would go no further. The God of Light would burn off their
hands and feet and all their hair would fall out and they
would go blind, they said. But they were willing to wait right
here until night, and watch the beam of colors, from pale-violet
to deep red, spreading upwards toward the zenith. At this
distance there was a steady rumbling, roaring, rushing sound,
and a trembling of the earth, that kept up day and night.
Wendelin lay there that night, and solved the question in his
mind. Thousands of years ago, Chicago had been destroyed by a
radio-active bomb, which was still exploding. He had heard of
continuous explosives; radioactive materials which, once set
exploding, would continue to explode; and in ten thousand
years would be only half destroyed; in the the next ten
thousand, half the remainder would be exploded, and so on.
There must have been some terrific warfare in that part of
Time which he had bridged. The wars had left behind only
mounds of sand and savages, and a bomb that after thousands
of years was still destroying itself.
Thank you,
J. Clarke
2018-04-01 18:00:37 UTC
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On Sun, 1 Apr 2018 09:46:03 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:11:34 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by m***@sky.com
At the end of "Who Goes There" one of the prizes for humanity is a practical neutron source,
Well, the prize is "atomic power" (and antigravity). The technical
trick Campbell handwaves for it is a "reservoir" of neutrons somehow
held in a floating sphere of water, apparently.
Writing in 1938 such notions are forgivable--very few people had an
idea how a practical nuclear reactor might work. 7 years later not so
much.
Even 7 years later not very many people knew how it might work.
But they knew that alien superscience was no longer needed in order to
do it.
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
It
wasn't like they broadcast the designs, and there was no Internet to
spread the knowledge. TODAY you wouldn't be excused from not knowing
that kind of thing, but I'd think that getting the details of nuclear
power right wouldn't be an assumption until the 60s, anyway.
You don't have to know "the details", all you have to know is the
concept of self-sustaining chain reaction. The idea of it was
published in Nature in 1939. By the end of 1945 it was obvious to
just about anybody who had read that paper that "they" had made it
work.

By 1957 you could get enough from Disney.

David DeLaney
2018-04-02 10:09:59 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
You don't have to know "the details", all you have to know is the
concept of self-sustaining chain reaction. The idea of it was
published in Nature in 1939. By the end of 1945 it was obvious to
just about anybody who had read that paper that "they" had made it work.
Yep. "How it works" is the physics, and once you have the key notion it's
easy. "How to build one that works"? Ah, THAT is _engineering_!

Dave, science vs. technology
--
\/David DeLaney posting thru EarthLink - "It's not the pot that grows the flower
It's not the clock that slows the hour The definition's plain for anyone to see
Love is all it takes to make a family" - R&P. VISUALIZE HAPPYNET VRbeable<BLINK>
my gatekeeper archives are no longer accessible :( / I WUV you in all CAPS! --K.
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