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In the following weeks, Serber touched on many themes, racing to an array of chalkboards to scribble complex formulas and equations. Among other things, he addressed how big a bomb would need to be in order to achieve critical mass--between 13.5 centimeters and 9 centimeters, he calculated--and what the probability of premature detonation might be. (It was, he concluded, always a danger.) At the end of the series, his lecture notes, classified as top secret, were gathered and printed for distribution to later cadres of scientists who came to work at Los Alamos. Years after the war they were declassified, and Serber, who died in May of 1997, took the opportunity to reflect on his work and the strange culture of the laboratory, adding postscripts and other commentary reproduced in the present edition.
Serber's book is an important document in the history of science, and remains one of the most accessible introductions to nuclear physics ever written. (On that note, those who worry that it is all too easy to find bomb-building instructions in the library or on the Web should rest assured: these lectures were tough for the greatest theoretical physicists of the time to follow.) It all makes for provocative reading. --Gregory McNamee
very good... has historical significance for those who are interested in this.Published 2 months ago by Michael Litten
Very well done. Really appreciated all the work that went into the wonderful comments throughout the book by the author, thank you.Published 3 months ago by Martin Lundquist
I loved the book. Fascinating how early physicists from 1938 to 1945 imagined the fission and fusion process. Read morePublished 6 months ago by George McCullough
So not worth the purchase price! But love the side notes involved. Very informative.Published 10 months ago by J. K.
This is Serber's satisfyingly clear back-of-the-envelope-style computation of the basics required to get from discovery of the neutron to a runaway fission chain reaction.Published 14 months ago by K Cameron