The Atomic West
Publication Year: 1998
Published by: University of Washington Press
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Because this anthology has taken some time to make its way into print, people have begun joking about its long half-life. While we detect no signs of decay in the potency of the chapters that follow, it is nonetheless a relief to thank at long last those who have assisted in the project. The following chapters had their start in 1992 as papers at "The...
The Atomic West: Region and Nation, 1942-1992
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On December 2, 1942, in a prototype reactor on a University of Chicago squash court, a team of scientists under the leadership of the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi created the world's first self-sustaining nuclear reaction. Nobel Prize winner Arthur Holly Compton, who oversaw the Chicago research effort, witnessed the event and then called...
I. Building a Federal Presence
Grand Coulee and Hanford: The Atomic Bomb and the Development of the Columbia River
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Writing to political friends in March 1943, an indiscreet congressional staffer revealed details of the nation's most hush-hush military undertaking, a project bound to have a transforming impact on the Pacific Northwest. The contract drawn and signed between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Du Pont Company, the large chemical...
General Groves and the Atomic West: The Making and the Meaning of Hanford
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Most histories of the atomic bomb concentrate on the efforts to solve technical conundrums and escape seemingly blind alleys in the struggle to make the bomb a reality. The basis for tribute is often the technical competence and ingenuity of the scientists and engineers who figured out how to manufacture the nuclear fuels and develop the components that went into the...
Building the Atomic Cities: Richland, Los Alamos, and the American Planning Language
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Los Alamos and Richland- the atomic cities that the Manhattan Engineer District built in New Mexico and Washington in 1943-were isolated by intent. Los Alamos met the seemingly contradictory requirements of defensible landscape, isolation from concentrated populations, a location at least 200 miles from the Pacific coast and international...
II. The Atomic Energy Commission at Work
The University of California, the Federal Weapons Labs, and the Founding the Atomic West
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Those interested in building and testing bombs have always found in the West the same allure that once drew the pioneer and now attracts the tourist, for sparse population and wide.open spaces are conducive to secrecy as well as to solitude.1 Although the Manhattan Project initially considered remote places in eastern states like South Carolina...
James L. Tuck: Scientific Polymath and Eternal Optimist of the Atomic West
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The name of James L. Tuck rings few bells with the American public. Even those who associate him with wartime Los Alamos acknowledge that his reputation pales beside those of his colleagues, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Hans Bethe, Enrico Fermi, Niels Bohr, Edward Teller, Rudolph Peierls, or Richard Feynman. Unlike Teller and Oppenheimer...
"Hotter Than a $2 Pistol" : Fallout, Sheep, and the Atomic Energy Commission, 1953-1986
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When it opened near Las Vegas in January 1951, only its novel purpose distinguished the Nevada Test Site from a host of other federally funded military projects dotting the western United States. Government officials, state and local alike, welcomed it for the promise of new money and new jobs. If local residents objected to the prospect of...
III. Local Resistance
Alaska and the Firecracker Boys: The Story of Project Chariot
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Project Chariot was the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission's code name for a 1958 plan to create an instant harbor on the coast of Alaska by detonating several thermonuclear bombs. But amid noisy protests from Eskimos and a cadre of young Alaskan scientists, Project Chariot was canceled in 1962. This all-but-unknown episode might be seen as...
Radical Initiatives and Moderate Alternatives: California's 1976 Nuclear Safeguards Initiative
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Edward Teller was furious. With trembling hands and flushed face, the father of the hydrogen bomb confronted two engineers outside a California hearing room. His voice rising, he finally screamed at them, "You are traitors." For Sierra Club lobbyist John Zierold, who witnessed the exchange, it was unnerving to watch a man of Teller's stature come...
Antinuclear Activism in the Pacific Northwest: WPPSS and Its Enemies
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Conceived in the atmosphere of growthmanship and technological enthusiasm that characterized the electric power industry of the late 1960s, the Washington Public Power Supply System's nuclear projects pointed the Pacific Northwest toward an energy future that was jarringly at odds with the realities of the next two decades. WPPSS itself,...
Air Force, Western Shoshone, and Mormon Rhetoric of Place and the MX Conflict
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During the Cold War decades, "the Bomb" came to play a fundamental symbolic role in American culture. For both supporters and foes, nuclear weapons represented far more than a pragmatic response to the bifurcated postwar political order. As Robert Oppenheimer recognized in the searing heat and light emanating from the Trinity explosion, nuclear...
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Publication Year: 1998