Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Oak Ridge lab encouraged to provide AMSE museum an exhibit on power grid security and space weather issues

I made a day at the American Museum of Science and Energy and took the highly structured tour (three hours) at high noon of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory grounds, which are immense.

Most of the tour involves the history of the Manhattan project and the development of the various components of the first atomic bomb.  There are or were various buildings (Y12, K25, X10) where major components of this work were done.  Particularly interesting is the way the “Fermi” device worked, where a critical mass was achieved by workers’ manually inserting plugs of uranium into a honeycombed matrix surround by graphite and lead.

This would have been demanding and dangerous work, in hot plants in the days long before air conditioning. Women did a lot of the work.

And in those days, people couldn’t talk about their work, even socially.  They lived in little prefabbed homes. 

And much of the land was taken from farmers suddenly by a delayed eminent domain.

The three hours rather reminded me of my day at an “intentional community” north of Richmond, discussed here April 7, 2012.

I talked about the Washington Post article (discussed here Sunday July 14) at the museum and one of the stations (K12) on the tour.  Since ORNL has published papers on the risk to the power grid from solar geomagnetic storms and possibly terrorists (EMP), I hope that AMSE will cover the issue soon with an exhibit at the museum. 

I will make a return visit if they do.

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