Sunday, January 17, 2010

Atomic Dinette???

 Heard on the radio the other day that "The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists" has dropped back the Doomsday clock by one minute. This is sort of a coincidence as I am trying to write a blog entry about certain events that occurred not too long ago that most people didn't even realize had occurred. This particular series of events, by the opinion of some historians, actually brought us closer to doomsday than even the Cuban Missile Crisis! But until that blog, as I am somewhat of a Cold War history buff myself, here is some trivia facts for the interested....

1) Klaus Fuchs was a famous spy during the Manhattan Project. There was another spy, just as important, codename Perseus whose identity was never found out.

2) In the middle of Hollywood, there was a secret film studio called Lookout Mountain that filmed all of the atomic tests and had 250 employees. At one time they were producing more film footage than any of the major studios.

3) Several sites were set up so that a plan called COG or Continuity of Government could be implemented. Congress was supposed to go (but not their wives and children), when warned, to a designated place called GreenBriar which was a secret complex built underneath a luxury hotel. All of the luxury hotel employees were told that the secret complex employees for the underground site were "TV Repairmen". It was undiscovered for 30 years until a reporter disclosed its existence.

4) During the peak of the US Bomb making in the 50's, 50 percent of all the stainless steel produced in the country went to the process of making bomb. 30 percent of all the electricity produced in the country went to the same purpose.

5) During the fallout shelter debates of the 60's, a congressman who was a major proponent of cheap shelters that could be made by anyone for 40 dollars and would survive a attack, proved so by making one in his backyard for that amount. When he had a fire on his property caused by burning trash, the shelter was completely burned and destroyed. This prompted physicist, Enrico Fermi, to state "There is a God and he has a sense of humor"

6) Right before the first test during the Manhattan project, there was a science fiction writer that wrote a short story about such things. It was specific enough in detail that he was arrested and interrogated by the FBI before they were finally convinced that it was a coincidence.

7) During testing for pilots in the air that may observe accidentally a megaton burst, a mileage number was needed so that the pilots could be assured that they would not experience eye flash blindness that may hinder their ability to fly. The testing was abruptly stopped and the report was classified when it was discovered to be more than 750 miles.

8) During a SAC flight a bomber carrying a 1.2 megaton H-bomb collided midair with a jet fighter. They had to eject the bomb out of the plane into the waters because they thought they were going to crash.
The bomb was never found after 6 weeks of intensive searching by the military. It still sits in the water somewhere off the coast of Savannah, Georgia in the good ole USA.

9) Before the first test at Alamogordo , there was concern that it would be a fizzle and the only sizable quantity of plutonium on the face off the planet would be scattered to the winds. So they came up with a design called JUMBO, a metal tank that was 25 feet long and weighing 214 tons that would contain the fizzle. They found the one foundry in the country that could make something of this size and had one produced. Then a special railroad car had to be designed to ship it to New Mexico. Special routes had to be then constructed to get from the rail lines to the site because normal roads would collapse with the weight. When it was brought to the site, the scientists decided it wasn't needed and left it in the desert where is still sits today.

 10) No, Indiana Jones would not have survived in a lead lined refrigerator as shown in the movie "Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull". So impossible was that scene that it gave rise to the saying "Nuke the frig" meaning a scene in a movie that is so implausable as to destroy any credibility of plot for the whole movie.
There WAS such a thing as the Doom-Town test in which the Atomic Energy Commission built a whole town complete with all the infrastructure and placed mannequins throughout the town and then blew it up with a A-Bomb. 

11) There was sort of an "atomic energy is our friend" crazy pr campaign going on although by this time it was well known the dangers of radiation by government departments (AEC, etc). One of the things that I would have sold my soul to the devil for was this toy. It was the equivalent of the erector set and easy bake oven rolled into one! Behold the Atomic Testing Lab for kids!! And you thought that toys weren't educational. My 6 year old vision, a perverse sort of Christmas story, was me in a white lab coat saying
"and with this last step, I shall rule the world!! Bwaahaahaa!"

As the literature for the toy by the company stated.....
comes with four types of uranium ore, a beta-alpha source (Pb-210), a pure beta source (Ru-106), a gamma source (Zn-65?), a spinthariscope, a cloud chamber with its own short-lived alpha source (Po-210), an electroscope, a geiger counter, a manual, a comic book (Dagwood Splits the Atom) and a government manual "Prospecting for Uranium."
For some reason my mom refused to let me have it. I eventually came around to understanding the wisdom of that.

12) The picture is of Miss Atomic Bomb 1957. The title of this blog is a cheap take of a profound piece of media called "Atomic Cafe" by Jayne Loader. The Atomic Testing for Kids toy was produced for 1 year I think around 1951 by the Gilbert Company. The kit was expensive at the time but a neighborhood friend had that toy, used,  that he was willing to part with for 10 dollars. He also had the largest box of M80's and Cherry Bombs that I had ever seen in one spot. And a Playboy magazine hidden for his paying customers to view. I think he later spent time in prison for some reason or other. Something about this kid just made bells go off in your head without the need any spoken words. Natures defense mechanism at work I suppose.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know which is scarier- Jayne's explosive costume, or that a science klit for kids actually had uranium in it! Scary shit, man.