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The Neutron's Long Shadow

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Surviving facilities of the Manhattan Project to produce the first atomic bombs.
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  • The Neutron's Long Shadow

    Traces of the Manhattan Project

    The neutron was not discovered until 1932.  One hundred billion times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, it could stimulate the decay of certain forms of uranium and it could change uranium into plutonium, a chemical element unnatural to the earth.  In fact neutrons could create all manner of unnatural, radioactive, and extremely dangerous forms of elements.  Only 13 years later, the Manhattan project had harnessed the neutron’s special powers to produce a uranium bomb that obliterated Hiroshima and a plutonium bomb that devastated Nagasaki.  What had begun as a triumph of the human imagination and intellect had resulted in the loss of an innocence that could never be recovered.
     
    In this project are images of some of the surviving facilities of the Manhattan Project.  Most were used heavily during the Cold War and all are now dormant or decommissioned.  Some of the radioactive byproducts produced in the manufacture of these nuclear explosives will be dangerous for millions of years so the environment can never be restored to its pristine state.  At best one can only hope to mitigate further consequences to nature and human health.  For such an impossibly tiny object, the neutron has indeed cast a long shadow.
  • Alpha Calutrons, 1st-Stage Source of Hiroshima Bomb Uranium, Oak Ridge, TN  1943
  • Beta Calutrons, 2nd-Stage Source of Hiroshima Bomb Uranium, Oak Ridge, TN  1943
  • X-10 Reactor, Pilot Plant for Production of Nagasaki Bomb Plutonium, Oak Ridge, TN   1943
  • Control Console, X-10 Pilot Plant for Production of Nagasaki Bomb Plutonium, Oak Ridge, TN   1943
  • K-25 North Building, Gaseous Diffusion Plant for Uranium Enrichment, Oak Ridge, TN  1945
  • K-25 West Leg, Gaseous Diffusion Plant for Uranium Enrichment, Oak Ridge, TN  1945
  • B Reactor, Source of Nagasaki Bomb Plutonium, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1945
  • B Reactor Front Face, Source of Nagasaki Bomb Plutonium, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1944
  • B Reactor Control Console, Source of Nagasaki Bomb Plutonium, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1944
  • B Reactor Valve Pit Controlling Cooling Water, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1945
  • River Pump House Pumps and Motors, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1945
  • Electrical Substation and B Reactor, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA
  • Railroad Tracks and B Reactor, Source of Nagasaki Bomb Plutonium, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA1944
  • Hot Reactor-Product Rail Cars and Storage Bldg, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1945
  • Hot Reactor-Product Storage  Building Interior, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1944
  • B Plant for Chemically Separating Plutonium from Reactor Products, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1945
  • B Plant Entrance No. 15, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1945
  • B Plant Rail Entrance, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1945
  • Gable Mountain Plutonium Vaults, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1945
  • Gable Mountain Plutonium Vault, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, WA 1945

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