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Totally OT, but interesting - 9/25/2018 7:01:51 PM   
Lecivius


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I just found this while cruising the news sites

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2018/09/25/how-adolf-hitlers-plan-to-build-atomic-bomb-and-destroy-london-was-only-thwarted-when-ferry-carrying-key-ingredients-sunk.html

I make no claim to be a nuke, but as I recall the German use of heavy water in the making of a nuclear weapon was discounted as being a red herring. I know there are folks here with a LOT more knowledge than I on the subject. Was Hitler closer to making The Bomb than I thought? Or are the ideas on this article a little off whack?

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RE: Totally OT, but interesting - 9/25/2018 7:09:25 PM   
btd64


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Lecivius

I just found this while cruising the news sites

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2018/09/25/how-adolf-hitlers-plan-to-build-atomic-bomb-and-destroy-london-was-only-thwarted-when-ferry-carrying-key-ingredients-sunk.html

I make no claim to be a nuke, but as I recall the German use of heavy water in the making of a nuclear weapon was discounted as being a red herring. I know there are folks here with a LOT more knowledge than I on the subject. Was Hitler closer to making The Bomb than I thought? Or are the ideas on this article a little off whack?


I've read that Hitler was close but was missing something, heavy water or something. Can't remember. But he was a couple of years away....GP

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RE: Totally OT, but interesting - 9/25/2018 7:16:07 PM   
BBfanboy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Lecivius

I just found this while cruising the news sites

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2018/09/25/how-adolf-hitlers-plan-to-build-atomic-bomb-and-destroy-london-was-only-thwarted-when-ferry-carrying-key-ingredients-sunk.html

I make no claim to be a nuke, but as I recall the German use of heavy water in the making of a nuclear weapon was discounted as being a red herring. I know there are folks here with a LOT more knowledge than I on the subject. Was Hitler closer to making The Bomb than I thought? Or are the ideas on this article a little off whack?

The analysis I saw said that the Germans had barely moved beyond splitting the first atom in the 1930s. They had not scaled up reactors to enrich enough material and their science had not learned how to get a chain reaction to explosive levels (probably from lack of sufficiently enriched materials).

It cost the US billions to complete the research, create the materials and build three bombs. Germany did not have that kind of money or scientific manpower to devote to such a project. That heavy water would have been used in furthering their research but they were far from ready to build a bomb.

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RE: Totally OT, but interesting - 9/25/2018 9:29:24 PM   
rustysi


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quote:

but as I recall the German use of heavy water in the making of a nuclear weapon was discounted as being a red herring.


IIRC, at first we thought heavy water was important, but further research showed it not to be true. We went in a different direction at that point.

Consider this as well. Maybe Germany didn't have the money or minds that weren't working on other things to to build a bomb. What she really lacked was the industrial input to achieve success. I remember seeing a docu in which it was stated Speer ask one of his subordinates what it would take to produce a nuclear bomb. When he got the report he claimed that if the numbers were correct it would have diverted resources on such a scale that Germany would have already lost the war. True? I don't know. But...

Here's what I am aware of...

It took a lot electrical energy to refine uranium to weapons grade material. Just look where the plants were built. Oak Ridge, TN and, Hanford, WA. What is it that these two sites have in common. A large surplus supply of electricity due to the TVA and Roosevelt's 'New Deal'. Talk about serendipity.

Maybe there's more to it. Maybe I'm way off the mark. Don't know for sure, but its always something I've considered/wondered about.

At any rate, to me all this talk about German possibilities is just so much hot air. Even her jet program was a flop. 'You mean the Me-262'. Yup. Engines had an average life of ~25 hrs. Not a war winner. Now had Germany had the needed metals for the needed alloys, who knows? Another one I like is that if she could only have produced more of this or that tank. I don't care if she could have built 100,000 more tanks or planes for that matter. Where was she to get the gas to drive them? Food for thought. In 1944, Germany used her most fuel in a single year of the war, 5.5 million gallons, and drained her reserves. In contrast, the British public consumed 20 millions of gas that year.

Germany, like Japan had neither the industry (although she had much more), nor the resources to develop the weapons and number thereof to win against the powers arrayed against her.

P.S.Must be a slow news day, or else they're trying to cover something else.

< Message edited by rustysi -- 9/25/2018 9:36:07 PM >


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RE: Totally OT, but interesting - 9/26/2018 12:25:16 AM   
Insano

 

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I'm not claiming to be an expert but the basics are that the Germans were pursuing a fusion (hydrogen) bomb rather than a fission (uranium) bomb as developed by the US and later Russia. The fusion bomb was later developed in the early 1950's so was presumably the more difficult of the two paths to take.

Heavy water as was produced in Norway was valuable as source from which to extract heavy hydrogen. Heavy hydrogen is hydrogen atoms with 1 or 2 neutrons instead of the vastly more common zero neutrons. This becomes the basis of the nuclear explosive charge in the hydrogen bomb.

My take is that the loss of the heavy water stock was no doubt a huge setback to the German nuclear program. However it wouldn't have mattered because they wouldn't have developed a functioning hydrogen bomb before the war ended anyway. What's more interesting and really fodder for discussion in my opinion is this: I could make the argument that the destruction of the heavy water actually prolonged the war. The basis of this being that this event largely caused the Germans to abandon their nuclear program rather than diverting scientific and industrial resources to continuing and eventually scaling up the program.

The hows and the whys of pursuing fusion over fission would be interesting to know. I don't know the reason(s) the Germans set off down this path. The end result is a fusion weapon can be made much more powerful than a fission weapon. Perhaps this was a contributor. The Germans presumably had access to uranium with European sources in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria even during those years.

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RE: Totally OT, but interesting - 9/26/2018 6:22:27 AM   
BBfanboy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Insano

I'm not claiming to be an expert but the basics are that the Germans were pursuing a fusion (hydrogen) bomb rather than a fission (uranium) bomb as developed by the US and later Russia. The fusion bomb was later developed in the early 1950's so was presumably the more difficult of the two paths to take.

Heavy water as was produced in Norway was valuable as source from which to extract heavy hydrogen. Heavy hydrogen is hydrogen atoms with 1 or 2 neutrons instead of the vastly more common zero neutrons. This becomes the basis of the nuclear explosive charge in the hydrogen bomb.

My take is that the loss of the heavy water stock was no doubt a huge setback to the German nuclear program. However it wouldn't have mattered because they wouldn't have developed a functioning hydrogen bomb before the war ended anyway. What's more interesting and really fodder for discussion in my opinion is this: I could make the argument that the destruction of the heavy water actually prolonged the war. The basis of this being that this event largely caused the Germans to abandon their nuclear program rather than diverting scientific and industrial resources to continuing and eventually scaling up the program.

The hows and the whys of pursuing fusion over fission would be interesting to know. I don't know the reason(s) the Germans set off down this path. The end result is a fusion weapon can be made much more powerful than a fission weapon. Perhaps this was a contributor. The Germans presumably had access to uranium with European sources in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria even during those years.

The trigger for a fusion reaction is very high heat - only achievable with a fission reaction. The Germans did not know that, of course.

As for heavy water, there are two types: deuterium with one extra neutron in the hydrogen (making the atom twice as heavy) and tritium with two extra neutrons. I hadn't heard before now about needing heavy water to get the enriched hydrogen, but I know heavy water is used in nuclear reactors to transfer the heat from the rods in the core to the tubes where the steam is created. I presume that heavy water can carry more heat before turning to steam so it is easier to pump around to cool the core.


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RE: Totally OT, but interesting - 9/26/2018 8:42:20 AM   
Rafid

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: BBfanboy

As for heavy water, there are two types: deuterium with one extra neutron in the hydrogen (making the atom twice as heavy) and tritium with two extra neutrons. I hadn't heard before now about needing heavy water to get the enriched hydrogen, but I know heavy water is used in nuclear reactors to transfer the heat from the rods in the core to the tubes where the steam is created. I presume that heavy water can carry more heat before turning to steam so it is easier to pump around to cool the core.



Sorry to correct:
a) Tritium is radioactive itself with a relatively low half-life of ~12 years. This keeps tritium from accumulating in meaningful quantitites in the natural enviroment. Heavy water usually means water with deuterium in both hydrogen spots.
b) Heavy water is used as a moderator in some (but by not all) nuclear reactor designs. Getting a stable chain reaction is all about the number of slow neutrons in the reactor. Water slows the neutrons to where they can split an atom (wanted), however it also absorbs the neutrons (unwanted). The absorption of heavy water is much lower (since the hydrogen already has a neutron, it is very reluctant to take on another). Using heavy water instead of normal water improves your neutron balance and hence allows for a stable chain reaction with less neutron producers, lowering the critical mass and allows using natural uranium instead of enriched uranium (which is tough to produce).

On the topic:
The most advanced German nuclear experiment conducted as late as February 1945 was indeed such a heavy water reactor using natural uranium. It was still below critical mass hence not able to keep up a chain reaction. It was by no means a production run but still an early scientific experiment to get more knowledge (for example on the cross section of uranium).

In theory: Would such a reactor be above critical mass (it was not) and run for a prolonged time (there was no time) it would produce plutonium to use in a fission bomb. But to get some scope: The Germans did NOT achieve a stable chain reaction in early 1945 while the US did so in December 1942. Even with its much bigger industrial capacity it took the US another 2 1/2 years to build a bomb. I fail to see how a ship sunk in 1944 made much of a difference in this calculation.

Newspaper articles or TV shows about "the Germans almost got the bomb in time" are always extreme exaggerations. The German "Uranprojekt" was extremely small in scale, not very advanced and aimed for its entire duration to get any reactor going. A prominent book on the subject is called “Hitler's uranium club” which is an accurate description of the small band of scientists and their ressources that were commited to the subject.


< Message edited by Rafid -- 9/26/2018 11:42:34 AM >

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RE: Totally OT, but interesting - 9/26/2018 7:28:52 PM   
sanderz

 

Posts: 836
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From: Devon, England
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Lecivius

I just found this while cruising the news sites

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2018/09/25/how-adolf-hitlers-plan-to-build-atomic-bomb-and-destroy-london-was-only-thwarted-when-ferry-carrying-key-ingredients-sunk.html

I make no claim to be a nuke, but as I recall the German use of heavy water in the making of a nuclear weapon was discounted as being a red herring. I know there are folks here with a LOT more knowledge than I on the subject. Was Hitler closer to making The Bomb than I thought? Or are the ideas on this article a little off whack?


there was a film about this....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axBiR8ZipPM

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Post #: 8
RE: Totally OT, but interesting - 9/27/2018 7:20:38 AM   
Apollo11


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Hi all,

quote:

ORIGINAL: Rafid

The most advanced German nuclear experiment conducted as late as February 1945 was indeed such a heavy water reactor using natural uranium. It was still below critical mass hence not able to keep up a chain reaction. It was by no means a production run but still an early scientific experiment to get more knowledge (for example on the cross section of uranium).

In theory: Would such a reactor be above critical mass (it was not) and run for a prolonged time (there was no time) it would produce plutonium to use in a fission bomb. But to get some scope: The Germans did NOT achieve a stable chain reaction in early 1945 while the US did so in December 1942. Even with its much bigger industrial capacity it took the US another 2 1/2 years to build a bomb. I fail to see how a ship sunk in 1944 made much of a difference in this calculation.

Newspaper articles or TV shows about "the Germans almost got the bomb in time" are always extreme exaggerations. The German "Uranprojekt" was extremely small in scale, not very advanced and aimed for its entire duration to get any reactor going. A prominent book on the subject is called “Hitler's uranium club” which is an accurate description of the small band of scientists and their ressources that were commited to the subject.


Exactly - "bombastic" documentaries and news articles that come out from time to time are really totally exaggerating German advance in nuclear weaponization... even their scientists admitted after the war that they were years away from anything useful...


Leo "Apollo11"

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