Heavy Water And The Wartime Race For Nuclear Energy / Edition 1

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Heavy water (deuterium oxide) played a sinister role in the race for nuclear energy during the Second World War. It was a key factor in Germany's bid to harness atomic energy primarily as a source of electric power; its acute shortage was a factor in Japan's decision not to pursue seriously nuclear weaponry; its very existence was a nagging thorn in the side of the Allied powers. Books and films have dwelt on the Allies' efforts to deny the Germans heavy water by military means; however a history of heavy water in itself has not been written. This book fills that gap. It concentrates on the circumstances whereby Norway became the pre-eminent producer of heavy water, and on the scientific role the rare isotope of hydrogren played in the wartime efforts by the Axis and Allied powers alike. Instead of a purely technical treatise on heavy water, the book may better be described as a social history of the subject. The book covers the discovery and early uses of deuterium before World War Two; its large-scale production by Norsk Hydro in Norway, especially under German control; the French-German race for the Norwegian heavy-water stocks in 1940; its importance for the subsequent German uranium project, including Allied sabotage and bombing of the Norwegian plants; likewise its lesser role in Allied projects, especially, the United States and Canada. The book concludes with an overall assessment of the importance, or perceived importance of heavy water for the German program, which alone staked everything on heavy water in its quest for a nuclear chain reaction.

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Editorial Reviews

Physics Today
...Dahl has writen an outstanding, fascinating account...one that specialists and the general public alike will find intriguing.
CERN Courier
Dahl manages to combine scientific accuracy with a compelling storyline that keeps the pages turning...It is a remarkable read.
Neutron News
This is a superbly researched book ... and an excellent read. Even someone with little knowledge of those turbulent times will enjoy it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780750306331
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue: Fornebu Airport, March 12, 1940. Manchester and Paris, 1919. The neutron. Heavy water. Artificial radioactivity. Nuclear fission. Heavy water revisited. The British initiative. Germany army ordnance takes charge. Heavy water takes center stage. America joins the quest. Action vemork. Neutrons despite bombs. Wavering outlook for heavy water. Canada enters the race. Fears and facts on the continent. Swabian Jura and upper telemark: final events. Hiroshima revealed; further contestants for nuclear energy. Epilogue. Appendices. Abbreviations. Notes. Select bibliography. Name index. Subject index.

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