Honor the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor by Learning Some Fascinating WWII History

nuclear

Tuesday, December 06, 2016 – 6:30 PM

A guarded secret for decades, learn how enriched uranium from Nazi Germany came to be used in United States’ atomic bombs. Researcher Carter Hydrick will detail the surrender of U-boat 234 and its cargo of 1,120 pounds of uranium that was concealed in nose of the U-boat in sealed cylinders lined with gold. Hydrick has tracked this shipment to the Manhattan Project and both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs.

Book signing of Critical Mass following lecture.

Members $12, Tickets $18

 

critical-mass

Praise for Critical Mass!

Compelling … as gripping as good fiction. Hydrick’s book is important history well written.
Tony Hillerman
New York Times Best Selling Author
Retired Journalism Professor
Decorated Hero of D-Day and the Italian Front

Certainly leads the experienced physicist to believe.
Dr. Delmar Bergen, retired
Director, Weapons Program Office
Los Alamos National Laboratory

The assertion in Critical Mass that the uranium surrendered to U.S. authorities onboard the German submarine U-234 was enriched U-235 [enriched uranium] is certainly a credible conclusion in view of the storage, containment and prevailing shipping conditions.
Dr. Gary Sandquist
Former Instructor of Nuclear Engineering
United States Military Academy, West Point

“Critical Mass brings to the surface defining new information, long hidden within archives, about the birth of the Atomic Bomb…. Should be in every library.”
D. Ray Smith
Oak Ridge Y-12 (uranium enrichment facility) Historian

“This is a fascinating book…with excellent primary source research.”
Joe Sills
Former United Nations spokesperson

“Critical Mass offers the scholar of modern history and the World War Two history buff important new information about the race for the atomic bomb. Its conclusions, based on primary sources, that the Manhattan Project used atomic bomb components received from Nazi Germany in the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, appear plausible and logical. Hydrick’s well-written account provides lucid understanding of hitherto unknown and important aspects of the birth of the Nuclear Age.”
Dr. Anthony Stranges
Associate Professor of Modern Military Science and Technology
Texas A&M University

“This book is a well-researched, well-reasoned, well-written persuasive argument for a revised interpretation of an important, perhaps even critical, chapter in our modern history. It deserves a careful reading and to be taken seriously by both scholars and laymen alike.”
Dr. Douglas F. Tobler
Professor of Modern German History, Emeritus
Brigham Young University

“A coherent and well researched history of events that have been covered up for half a centuryexciting and revealing!”
Otis Maclay
Pacifica Radio Host

“The best primary source research I have seen in a long, long time.”
Gordon Fowkes, Lt. Colonel, US Army (Ret),
University of Houston Military History Symposium

Was the uranium surrendered to the United States on a German U-boat really enriched?

“The facts that the uranium captured from Nazi Germany was: 1)stowed in gold-lined containers that, 2) were cylindrical in shape, 3) each possibly carrying half a critical mass, 4) that were described as becoming ‘sensitive and dangerous’ when opened, and 5) should be handled like TNT, certainly leads the experienced physicist to believe the material was enriched uranium. I cannot fathom anyone at the time taking such careful precautions, or claiming such danger, about comparatively harmless natural uranium.”

Dr. Delmar Bergen, retired
Former Director, Nuclear Weapons Program
Los Alamos National Laboratory

How did the Germans obtain the enriched uraniumwas an alleged synthetic rubber plant actually a uranium enrichment facility?

“Based on the information Mr. Hydrick presents, and my own knowledge of two World War Two SBR rubber plants, I find it hard to believe the traditional explanation that the Germans spent four fruitless years trying to bring a rubber plant on line, the technology for which they had previously developed, proven and used. I also cannot comprehend, nor do I believe, a buna plant of that time period consumed as much power as the eighth largest city in the world (Berlinas stated by the directors of the plant).”

George M. Ladzun, retired
Former Director, Process Development, Zeon Chemicals
Former Manager of two synthetic rubber plants
Former Process Engineer for buna plant start-up, BF Goodrich

“The electrical consumption that I.G. Farben’s directors described at their buna plant at Auschwitz is very much in line with the huge electrical requirements for electro-magnetically enriching uranium.”

Dr. Delmar Bergen, retired
Former Director, Nuclear Weapons Program
Los Alamos National Laboratory

“It was not a rubber plant. You can bet your bottom dollar on that.”

Ed Landry
Former President and General Manager
Keystone Polymers, Inc.

Texas Wins Big: NEED State Program of the Year

NEED – the National Energy Education Development Project – is an organization that teaches people how to teach about energy. Even though the concept of energy education might sound simple at first – too many people think that if they teach about one energy source, they’re teaching about energy in general.

In the NEED Primary Science of Energy curriculum, they discuss petroleum, coal, solar energy, uranium, biomass, hydropower, wind energy, geothermal energy, propane, natural gas and light.

Texas was selected as NEED’s State Program of the Year because of the diverse and dedicated partners providing energy education opportunities to students, teacher, and families in Texas.

HMNS, along with other Texas partners, was recognized at the 29th Annual Youth Awards for Energy Achievement for the Museum’s commitment to NEED and the programs in Texas, as well as our commitment to energy education in general.

Niagara Falls Hydro Plant
Hydropower
Creative Commons License photo credit: gobanshee1

But it’s not just about giving the teachers facts and figures. The fastest way for teachers to get students excited is to get the teachers excited –  and NEED activities do just that.

Before receiving the award, we completed a test run of their new hydropower curriculum. I spent a few hours with elementary school teachers and kids, putting together a water-powered wheel that would lift paperclips.  The exciting part was watching the kids come up with ideas and innovations to make the water-powered wheels run more efficiently and do more work.

To learn more about energy education, check out our previous entries in the blog’s Energy category.

Measure for Measure…How much energy is there?

How much energy is there?  How much is the world using? You can spend hours and hours investigating the finer points of that topic—and plenty of people spend their whole lives on it. Does that sound like fun, or what? Before you jump in, a few basics are in order.

back alley
Creative Commons License photo credit: tvol

A barrel is 42 gallons of oil. Although the actual familiar steel drum is used less and less these days, the somewhat arbitrary 42 gallons remains the worldwide definition of a barrel.

Natural gas is normally measured in cubic feet. Because the volume of a gas changes based on its pressure and temperature, different groups have different standard conditions, resulting in slightly different amounts of natural gas per cubic foot.
 
To get some kind of grand total that makes any sense, we need a standardized unit of measurement for gases, liquids and all other forms of energy. Since all forms of energy can be converted to heat, one approach is to use heat as the basis for measuring energy.  We can measure that heat in British Thermal Units, or BTU. One BTU is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit, which happens to be just about equal to the energy of a burning match.

When we are trying to measure huge quantities of energy on a global level, we can convert everything (barrels of oil, cubic feet of natural gas) to BTU, resulting in amounts that are in the thousands of trillions of BTU—or quadrillions—10 raised to the 15th exponential power, which is a 1 with 15 zeros after it (1,000,000,000,000,000). To simplify things, we refer to one quadrillion BTU as a “quad.”

But sometimes people measure energy in kilowatt-hours (as on your electric bill), or maybe in joules. The conversions for those are as follows:

1 kilowatt-hour = 3,412 BTU = 3,600,000 joules

(Thus, as you can see, a BTU is roughly about 1,000 joules.)

Taladro-H104-OilDriller
Creative Commons License photo credit: nestor galina

There are plenty of statistical mavens who prefer to use the “oil-equivalent” approach, which converts everything to the equivalent of almighty oil, either in “barrels oil equivalent” (BOE), or tonnes (the metric ones) oil equivalent (TOE). As in the previous examples, the numbers being compared are generally quite large, so we usually see MBOE or MTOE, the “M” signifying millions.

1 MTOE =  0.0397 quad = 6.75 MBOE

Practically all your quantitative conversionary questions can be answered at this handy site, which can calculate between just about any units you can imagine:

In 2005, the world consumed somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 x 1018 joules, or about 474 quads, or 139 x 1012 kilowatt-hours of energy from all sources. About 80% of that amount came from fossil fuels, with the rest from nuclear energy, alternative fuels and renewables. BP releases a nifty little study on the state of global energy every year.

The remaining recoverable fossil fuel energy worldwide is estimated by “Wikipedia sources” at about 379,000 quads (huge amounts of energy are locked in “unconventional” sources such as gas hydrates).

In The Sun
Creative Commons License photo credit: krisdecurtis

Another 2.37 million quads from uranium (nuclear power) remain. Both these sums are dwarfed by just one year of the total amount of solar energy that hits the earth, a whopping 3.6 million quads annually.  However you want to measure it, there’s a LOT of energy out there

…or then again, maybe the whole universe could have a sum total of no energy at all .

Chew on that for a little bit and get back to me.

Science Doesn’t Sleep (5.6.08)

rock climbing
Creative Commons License photo credit: kumon

So here’s what went down since you logged off.

They’re probably going to need some fungi: prospectors are going wild for uranium all along the Grand Canyon. (Via)

But hopefully not chrytid fungi – it’s destroying frog populations worldwide. Scientists are studying amphibians in Madagascar to try and save them.

Sometimes, it pays to be dumb: ironically, scientists prove that smarter isn’t necessarily better, when it comes to survival.

We don’t even have robot maids yet – but scientists at Duke University have taken the first steps towards creating autonomous robot surgeons.

If you haven’t taken a crack at curating yet – your time is running out. Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition gives you a say in what The Brooklyn Museum puts on display – but only through May 23. It’s fun! So head over and make your opinion count.