October 25, 2004

Government Website listed location of radioactive material

In a medical building in the Washington, D.C., area, a freezer of radioactive material sat in a hallway unguarded. How did NBC News find it? By carefully reading a U.S. government website belonging to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"It's mind-boggling that some three-years after September 11, we can still find detailed drawings like this," says Charles Ferguson, a dirty bomb expert at the U.S. State Department.

"This website can provide a road map to a terrorist. It shows them exactly where they need to go to find dangerous radioactive materials," says Ferguson.

But Monday there was an unexpected development: six days after NBC News showed the documents to the NRC, the agency shut down that part of the Website, which may have been inadvertently providing a roadmap to terror. [via MSNBC]

[atomicarchive.com]But did anyone check the Google cache of the site still had the information?

Vast explosives cache missing in Iraq, U.N. says

Several hundred tons of conventional explosives are missing from a former Iraqi military facility that once played a key role in Saddam Hussein's efforts to build a nuclear bomb, the U.N. nuclear agency confirmed Monday.

"On Oct. 10, the IAEA received a declaration from the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology informing us that approximately 350 (metric) tons of high explosive material had gone missing," U.N. Security Council spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said. (The 350 metric tons is equivalent to 380 U.S. tons.) [via MSNBC]
October 24, 2004

Fuel from CP-1

So often the artifacts from milestones of history are simply discarded as junk. Of all the graphite used to construct Fermi's pile, only 4 bricks remain. These pages show photographs of artifacts from the world's first nuclear reactor.

Graphite from CP-1

Fuel from CP-1

Nuclear offer fails to sway Iran

Iran has described as "unbalanced" a European offer of trade concessions and nuclear technology in return for the suspension of uranium enrichment.

The UN's nuclear agency, the IAEA, has given Iran until the end of November to suspend its enrichment program.[via BBC NEWS]
October 22, 2004

Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple; Three Lectures by Hans Bethe

In 1999, legendary theoretical physicist Hans Bethe delivered three lectures on quantum theory to his neighbors at the Kendal of Ithaca retirement community (near Cornell University). Given by Professor Bethe at age 93, the lectures are presented here as QuickTime videos synchronized with slides of his talking points and archival material. [Three Lectures by Hans Bethe]
October 21, 2004

Review: J. Robert Oppenheimer: And the American Century

Book CoverThe life of J. Robert Oppenheimer is one of great mystery and fascination. His role in the development of the atomic bomb and his subsequent role in shaping America's nuclear policy, as well as his rise and fall during McCarthy has been the subject of countless books. David Cassidy, Hofstra University professor, has written an excellent account of Oppenheimer's life and the development of theoretical physics in America during the early part of the 20th century. The parallelism between the life of Oppenheimer and the rise of American science is an intriguing tale that is captured in this book.

This biography is a detailed and beautifully written work. Cassidy expands beyond the traditional scope of a biography and expertly explores the surrounding environment that shaped Oppenheimer's life. He draws upon previously untapped primary documents, and shows the importance and character of Oppenheimer's early education on the rest of his life. Cassidy examines the conflicts between Oppenheimer's liberal education from the Ethical Culture School and the culture that he found at Harvard. Oppenheimer's time in Europe is also recounted.

The book does not become overly focused on the Manhattan Project, but covers the time on "The Hill" in enough detail to keep the story in context. He instead offers insights to the periods before the war, when Oppenheimer taught at Berkeley and Cal Tech. Oppenheimer's genius and ability to inspire his students is shown, allowing us to gain insight into the man before the events that would be the foundation of his legacy.

The 1954 Atomic Energy Commission security review that disgraced Oppenheimer, and stripped him of his security clearance for alleged "red ties," are explored with the same thoughtful insight. Recent documents and information regarding those events are thoroughly and conclusively discussed.

Oppenheimer: and the American Century is a welcome addition to the history of science.

October 19, 2004

Iran to halt some nuclear activities

Iran said yesterday it is prepared to temporarily suspend some nuclear activities but would not surrender its right to enrich uranium. Any suspension of nuclear activities would have to be for "a short period," he said. He did not specify what activities Iran would suspend.

Iran says its nuclear program is devoted entirely to electricity generation. Its first nuclear reactor, built with Russian assistance, is due to come on stream next year. [via Boston.com]
October 18, 2004

Atomic DVD Projects

Recently we have been converting our aging video tapes to DVDs. We decided to have a little creative fun and design custom menus for each tape. You can view the samples here.

Russia Finishes Building Iran Nuclear Plant

Russia and Iran said Thursday they had finished construction of an atomic power plant in the Islamic Republic -- a project the United States fears Tehran could use to make nuclear arms.

"We're done," said a spokesman for Russia's Atomic Energy Agency (RosAtom). "All we need to do now is work out an agreement on sending spent fuel back to Russia."

Such an agreement with Iran is designed to allay U.S. concerns. Iran would guarantee it would return to Russia all spent nuclear fuel, which can be used to make weapons. But the signing, due last year, has been repeatedly delayed. [via Reuters.com]
October 16, 2004

Iran will not give up uranium enrichment

Iran said Saturday it would reject any proposal depriving it of the right to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel, part of a package Washington's European allies are proposing to avoid a showdown over Iran's nuclear program. The European countries notified the United States on Friday that they intend to offer Iran a package of economic concessions and technological assistance next week in the hopes of persuading Tehran to permanently give up its uranium-enrichment program. The U.S. administration withheld its approval of the overture.

"Iran will not accept any proposal which deprives it of the legitimate right to the cycle of (nuclear) fuel," state-run television quoted Hossein Mousavian, a top nuclear official, as saying. [via MSNBC]
October 14, 2004

Inside Iraq's 'looted' nuclear reactor site

Iraqi staff at theTuwaitha nuclear reactor complex yesterday made an impromptu effort to counteraccusations by the United Nations that vast amounts of nuclear equipment had disappeared from similar facilities in Iraq, by giving tours of the complex to journalists." [via FT.com]
October 13, 2004

Nuclear Test Images Gallery Redesigned

A quick note that we have just redesigned the Nuclear Test Images Gallery. Please stop by and look it over.

Pakistan and India's Arms Race

In a paper on the world's fissile material stocks, David Albright and Kimberly Kramer of the Institute for Science and International Security estimate that Pakistan now has from 55 to 90 nuclear weapons, compared to India's 55 to 110, the Times of India reported Wednesday.
October 12, 2004

Nuclear materials 'vanish' in Iraq

Equipment and materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons have disappeared from Iraq, IAEA has warned.

Satellite imagery shows entire buildings that once housed high-precision equipment that could be used to make nuclear bombs have been dismantled, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a letter to the Security Council.

In the letter, IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei said that though some radioactive equipment taken from Iraq after the war began has shown up in other countries, none of the high-quality, dual-use equipment or materials that is missing has been found.

The U.S. government prevented U.N. weapons inspectors from returning to Iraq -- thereby blocking the IAEA from monitoring the high-tech equipment and materials -- after the U.S.-led war was launched in March 2003.[via CNN.com ]
October 06, 2004

Iraq Did Not Have Any WMD

Contradicting the main argument for a war that has cost more than 1,000 American lives, the top U.S. arms inspector reported Wednesday that he found no evidence that Iraq produced any weapons of mass destruction after 1991.

What U.S. forces found:
  • A single artillery shell filled with two chemicals that, when mixed while the shell was in flight, would have created sarin. The shell was from Saddam's pre-1991 stockpile.
  • Another old artillery shell, also rigged as a bomb and found in May, showed signs it once contained mustard agent.
  • Two small rocket warheads, turned over to Polish troops by an informer, that showed signs they once were filled with sarin.
  • Centrifuge parts buried in a former nuclear scientist's garden in Baghdad. These were part of Saddam's pre-1991 nuclear program, which was dismantled after the 1991 Gulf War. The scientist also had centrifuge design documents.
  • A vial of live botulinum toxin, which can be used as a biological weapon, in another scientist's refrigerator. The scientist said it had been there since 1993.
  • Evidence of advanced design work on a liquid-propellant missile with ranges of up to 620 miles. Since the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq had been prohibited from having missiles with ranges longer than 93 miles.


Let the poltical fallout begin.... [via CBS News]

Iran makes uranium breakthrough

Iran said Wednesday it has processed several tons of raw "yellowcake" uranium to prepare it for enrichment - a key step in developing atomic weapons - in defiance of the IAEA.

Converting raw uranium into hexafluoride gas does not violate any agreements Iran has made regarding its nuclear program and was done with the full knowledge of the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, it draws Iran and the United States - which quickly voiced its disapproval - closer to a showdown before the U.N. Security Council.[via BBC NEWS]
October 05, 2004

Nobel Prize in Physics

Although a bit off-topic, as a physics graduate of UCSB, I am always excited when something big happens at the old campus....

The force that holds together the tiniest particles of matter has pulled in the Nobel Prize in Physics for the three US physicists who unravelled its workings.

David Gross, David Politzer and Frank Wilczek have each been awarded a third of the 2004 prize for explaining how quarks - sub-atomic particles which make up the protons and neutrons in the nuclei of atoms - stick together.

Protons and neutrons consist of three quarks each, and there are six different types of quarks, such as "up" and "down" quarks.

The trio of scientists were awarded the $1.3 million prize for work explaining the so-called "strong" or "color" force prevalent in the atomic nucleus.

The strong force is one of the fundamental forces of nature, and their breakthrough "brought physics one step closer to fulfilling a grand dream...a theory for everything" according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which announced the winners on Tuesday morning.[via The Nobel Foundation]
October 03, 2004

Madmen, Rogues & Nukes

Newsweek/MSNBC has an article on nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. There is also THE NUCLEAR THREAT: NORTH KOREA, IRAN & BEYOND on Newsweek Radio. MSNBC

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