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The Physics of the Manhattan Project


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Table of Contents

Preface.- Energy Release in Nuclear Reactions, Neutrons, Fission, and Characteristics of Fission.- Critical Mass and Efficiency.- Producing Fissile Material.- Complicating Factors.- Miscellaneous Calculations.- Appendices.- Appendix A: Selected.- Values and Fission Barriers.- Appendix B: Densities, Cross-Sections and Secondary Neutron Numbers.- Appendix C: Energy and Momentum Conservation in a Two-Body Collision.- Appendix D: Energy and Momentum Conservation in a Two-Body Collision That Produces a Gamma-Ray.- Appendix E: Formal Derivation of the Bohr-Wheeler Spontaneous Fission Limit.- Appendix F:Average Neutron Escape Probability From Within a Sphere.- Appendix G: The Neutron Diffusion Equation.- Appendix H: Questions, Answers.- Appendix I: Further Reading.- Appendix J: Useful Constants and Conversion Factors.

About the Author

Bruce Cameron Reed is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Physics at Alma College (Michigan), emeritus. He has published five textbooks and over 50 journal papers and semi-popular articles on the Manhattan Project; three of the texts are with Springer (one of these is currently in press, a popular treatment of the Project). In 2009, he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in recognition of his contributions to promoting understanding of the history and physics of the Manhattan Project.


“The volume is targeted at readers with an advanced undergraduate physics background, with the goals of explicating the principles behind the fission bombs completed in 1945, and of using these principles to illuminate more general areas of physics, such as electromagnetism and statistical mechanics. … both physicists and historians might find it most useful as a reference work.” (Joseph D. Martin, Metascience, Vol. 30, August 25, 2021)

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