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A memorandum that changed the world
1.Otto Frisch, What Little I Remember (Cambridge U. P., New York, 1979).
2.Reference 1, p. 118.
3.N. Bohr, “Resonance in uranium and thorium disintegrations and the phenomenon of nuclear fission,” Phys. Rev. 55, 418–419 (1939).http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRev.55.418.2
4.R. Peierls, “Critical conditions in neutron multiplication,” Proc. Cambridge Philos. Soc. 35, 610–615 (1939).http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S030500410002137X
5.Reference 4, p. 610.
6.U.S. Department of Energy, “Criticality experiments facility,” National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office, 2005-06-15 ⟩www.nv.doe.gov/library/factsheets/DOENV_1063.pdf.
7.Reference 3, p. 419.
8.A. O. Nier, E. T. Booth, J. R. Dunning, and A. V. Grosse, “Nuclear fission of separated uranium isotopes,” Phys. Rev. 57 (6), 546 (1940).http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRev.57.546
9.Klaus Clusius and Gerhard Dickel, “Zur trennung der chlorisotope,” Naturwiss. 27, 148–149 (1939).http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01489129
10.There are several places where this memorandum can be found. My choice is in an appendix of Robert Serber, The Los Alamos Primer (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1992). The advantage is that the reader can get a tutorial in bomb physics in the rest of the book. Also it is one of the more accessible choices. The reader should be warned that there are several significant mistakes in this version, which Cameron Reed has been able to compare to the original in the Bodleian Museum at Oxford. I will point out these mistakes as we go along.
11.I am grateful to Carey Sublette for his help in sorting this out.
12.See, for example, J. Bernstein, “Heisenberg and the critical mass,” Am. J. Phys. 70 (9), 911–916 (2002).http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1495409
13.F. Perrin, “Calcul relative aux conditions éventuelles de transmission en chaine dl’uranium,” C. R. Acad. Sci. URSS 208, 1394–1396 (1939).
14.L. A. Goldstein, A. Rogozinski, and R. J. Walen, “The scattering by uranium nuclei of fast neutrons and the possible neutron emission resulting from fission,” Nature (London) 144, 201–202 (1939).http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/144201a0
15.I thank Cameron Reed who has seen the manuscript for communications on this matter. I will not present a derivation because it would take us into too much technical detail.
16.See, for example, Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1986), p. 340.
17.To read the report, see Margaret Gowing, Britain and Atomic Energy 1939–1945 (Macmillan, London, 1964). You will also find a version of the Frisch-Peierls memorandum which is less error prone than the Serber version.
18.Reference 13, p. 594.
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