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Work on a more effective way of separating Isotopes


Progress in methods of making material
Edward Teller Scientist
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A little bit about the administrative side. In the meantime progress was done. The calculations that I did not undertake led to results which later proved to be good enough, but we did not trust them sufficiently so that at the end a greatly simplified model was actually used. In the meantime also, the various separation methods, the methods of making material, made progress, improved. There were three different ways to get the material. One was separating the really useful active low abundance uranium 235 for the bulk of U238 by using a gaseous molecule containing uranium, uranium hexafluoride, and using the fact that the lighter isotope diffused faster. It worked. It worked much too slowly. Urey at Columbia University worked- was working on it. He worked out the method that proved very useful in separating other isotopes used in other parts of physical chemistry, but for the war effort; no.

The late Hungarian-American physicist Edward Teller helped to develop the atomic bomb and provided the theoretical framework for the hydrogen bomb. During his long and sometimes controversial career he was a staunch advocate of nuclear power and also of a strong defence policy, calling for the development of advanced thermonuclear weapons.

Listeners: John H. Nuckolls

John H. Nuckolls was Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1988 to 1994. He joined the Laboratory in 1955, 3 years after its establishment, with a masters degree in physics from Columbia. He rose to become the Laboratory's Associate Director for Physics before his appointment as Director in 1988.

Nuckolls, a laser fusion and nuclear weapons physicist, helped pioneer the use of computers to understand and simulate physics phenomena at extremes of temperature, density and short time scales. He is internationally recognised for his work in the development and control of nuclear explosions and as a pioneer in the development of laser fusion.

Duration: 1 minute, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008