Chapter

‘Like children in a toy factory’

Sean F. Johnston

in The Neutron's Children

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199692118
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740732 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199692118.003.0005
‘Like children in a toy factory’

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During the war, theoretical ideas had been translated with dizzying rapidity into immense industrial enterprises. The concentration of wartime experience at a handful of centres was crucial in nurturing the new specialists. But the drive for the new field was provided by glimmers of technological possibilities and the opportunities that they might provide to build a new discipline. The design of ‘atomic piles’, or nuclear chain-reactors, became the aspiration and focus of activity at a half-dozen national labs. In the USA, ‘nucleonics’ was promoted as a new field, while in the UK nuclear engineering received little support from administrators as a new discipline. In each country, empirical engineering science became the focus of attention, leading to hybrid scientist-engineers unlike their pre-war counterparts.

Keywords: Walter Zinn; nucleonics; Christopher Hinton; ORINS; ORSORT; training; engineering education; nuclear industry; Du Pont; Savannah River Plant; nuclear history

Chapter.  25495 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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