by Arkady BRISCH, Dr. Sc. (Technol), honorary scientific advisor, All-Russia Research Institute of Automation (named after N. Dukhov)
In August 1949 the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb. Years and years of strenuous work of many scientists and technical experts preceded this epoch-making event. I happened to be involved in the job too. Here's what I remember.
The door to the atomic age was set ajar in 1938 as the German physicists Otto Hahn, Friedrich Strassman and Otto Frisch as well as their Austrian counterpart Lily Meisner discovered that uranium isotope nuclei split into two fragments of nearly identical mass and two neutrons. A large amount of energy was released thereby, with other atoms becoming involved in the fission process too. The chain reaction phenomenon! As to the chain reaction theory, it was evolved in 1939 and 1940 by Soviet scientists, future members of the Academy of Sciences Yakov Zeidovich and Yuli Khariton. In 1940 these physicists, together with Igor Kurchatov and Georgi Flyorov, filed a memo on the use of uranium energy in the chain reaction.
Before launching its atomic project in full swing, the Soviet Union had to found a complex of new industries, the uranium-mining industry among them. It had to build reactors and develop appropriate technologies. In short, it had to begin from scratch. Igor Kurchatov* was appointed scientific coordinator of this supertask, while Yuli Khariton was to concentrate on the designing of atomic bombs.
To some extent Soviet physicists made use of the information passed by the German scientist Klaus Fuchs in the mid-1940s on the first US bomb tested in July 1945. Yet, as many competent scientists believe, we gained only a year at the most in the manufacture of our first atomic bomb. Klaus Fuchs himself said later that his information helped avoid erroneous and deadline pathways in research. No more than that.
Meanwhile we started acting on this grandiose atomic project with much elan ... Читать далее