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More powerful reactors designed by Wigner in Hanford


Work on a more effective way of separating Isotopes
Edward Teller Scientist
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In the meantime, in California, Lawrence worked a more effective way of separating isotopes that depended simply on a deflection of ions that have been given a certain energy by accelerating them and then deflecting them by a magnetic field. The same energy at different masses will give different deflections. That method worked, but it worked only to make enough explosive material for one or two bombs. The mass production looked too expensive, too difficult. There remained a third method, the main method pursued in the Metlab, Metallurgical laboratory in Chicago; make a reactor, construct a reactor, produce a new element, plutonium. In the meantime we, at Los Alamos, found a method to compress the plutonium and make little of it enough to make an explosion, but at the same time the work at Chicago in the Metallurgical Laboratory really took on impressive dimensions.

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, 56 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008