Building the H Bomb: A Personal History

Kenneth W. Ford


Building the H Bomb: A Personal History

Building the H Bomb: A Personal History

  • Title: Building the H Bomb: A Personal History
  • Author: Kenneth W. Ford
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 198
  • Format: Kindle Edition



In this engaging scientific memoir, Kenneth Ford recounts the time when, in his mid twenties, he was a member of the team that designed and built the first hydrogen bomb He worked with and relaxed with scientific giants of that time such as Edward Teller, Enrico Fermi, Stan Ulam, John von Neumann, and John Wheeler, and here offers illuminating insights into the personIn this engaging scientific memoir, Kenneth Ford recounts the time when, in his mid twenties, he was a member of the team that designed and built the first hydrogen bomb He worked with and relaxed with scientific giants of that time such as Edward Teller, Enrico Fermi, Stan Ulam, John von Neumann, and John Wheeler, and here offers illuminating insights into the personalities, the strengths, and the quirks of these men Well known for his ability to explain physics to nonspecialists, Ford also brings to life the physics of fission and fusion and provides a brief history of nuclear science from the discovery of radioactivity in 1896 to the ten megaton explosion of Mike that obliterated a Pacific Island in 1952 Ford worked at both Los Alamos and Princeton s Project Matterhorn, and brings out Matterhorn s major, but previously unheralded contribution to the development of the H bomb Outside the lab, he drove a battered Chevrolet around New Mexico, a bantam motorcycle across the country, and a British roadster around New Jersey Part of the charm of Ford s book is the way in which he leavens his well researched descriptions of the scientific work with brief tales of his life away from weapons.Contents The Big Idea The Protagonists The Choice The Scientists, the Officials, and the President Nuclear Energy Some Physics Going West A New World The Classical Super Calculating and Testing Constructing Matterhorn Academia Cowers New Mexico, New York, and New Jersey The Garwin Design Climbing Matterhorn It s More Than a BoyReadership A memoir for general readership in the history of science.Key Features It contains real physics, clearly presented for non specialists Combining historical scholarship and his own recollections, the author offers important insights into the people and the work that led to the first H bomb Personal anecdotes enliven the book


Recent Comments "Building the H Bomb: A Personal History"

Here's some news prior to the book's release. I certainly hope it doesn't get censored!nytimes/2015/03/24/sci

This is an interesting read. Dr. Ford does a good job of going over the basic physics, but also gives many good personal stories as he relates the path to the hydrogen bomb. If you want more details you should look at Richard Rhodes's Making of the Atomic Bomb (for the A bomb) and Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb (for the H bomb). This is a nice shorter book that covers everything well. It has a lot of names of scientists, which is interesting to me personally, but your mileage may vary [...]

In 1950 Dr. John Wheeler took leave of Princeton University to work on the development of the H bomb at Los Alamos. He brought with him a handful of students: one them was Kenneth Ford, the author of the book under review. The next year they joined Project Matterhorn which played an integral role in the development of Mike, the 10 megaton device that obliterated an entire Island of the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Before the test there were forty-one islands in the Atoll. Then there w [...]

This was a disappointing read. While it is laudable that the author attempted to weave his personal stories alongside the technical story, I didn't find that he had any particularly interesting stories to tell. Just get some pretty dry chronicles of places visited, people seen and cars driven.The technical story isn't all the engaging either, although I appreciated the candor the author had in speaking about some of his famous co-workers, especially Edward Teller. But the vast quantity of scient [...]

Surprisingly witty and warm, this personal recounting of the personalities and physics behind the modern nuclear world is fascinating, enthralling, and decidedly entertaining. The entire story really revolves around the relationships of a few men in designing and creating the H-bomb, and the debate over where credit is due that has ensued since. Ford is not only a balanced observer who stood at the heart of the H-bomb invention, he is characterized by profound humility and kindness. For example: [...]

A link in the chainI have been in awe of LOS ALAMOS since my first visit there, at the age of 14,while on a trip to the PHILMONT SCOUT RANCH. As a result of that trip I developed a deep appreciation of NEW MEXICO and it's history. Later, during my naval service I was assigned to a FLEET BALLISTIC SUBMARINE and during load-out was able to go inside one our missiles and reach up and touch the warhead. I had come full circleWarning - there is a fair amount of physics in this book But very understan [...]

if you've read *dark sun*, you've read most of what's here, save the Wheeler anecdotes and some young-physicists-driving-across-america tales, though none of the latter are as good as the feynman-dyson drive from *disturbing the universe*. there're a few typos, Ford has a tic about referring to future chapters, and he grabbed a number of his pictures from Commons. what ya gonna do.

Charming little book detailing Ford's work on the development of the first hydrogen bomb alongside luminaries like Ulam, Teller, Wheeler, Bethe and von Neumann as a twentysomething grad student at Princeton in the 50s. Good technical description of the basic physics of the so-called Teller-Ulam design for fission assisted fusion device.

A must read for students of nuclear weaponsA first hand account of the development of the hydrogen bomb by the United States. In many ways this is better then Richard Rhodes 'Dark Sun'.Certainly if you enjoyed Mr. Rhodes's two books on nuclear weapons you will enjoy this book also.

A very interesting readWritten in a way that a layman can understand, this book throughly discusses the creativity that went into the creation of the H bomb without going as far as glorifying the super weapon.

This interesting book describes the making of the H Bomb and the scientists involved. The author was a graduate student of John Wheeler and gives good descriptions of all the players. Unfortunately, I had to skim the book because I only had a night to read it.

Good bookAs a nuclear engineer I was very interested in this project. I also had once spent an entire day with Dr Teller who was avery interesting gentleman.Good detail that tells it from a project perspective.

This was a fun read, though it particularly appealed to me being a physics history fan. It can be read by anyone since there is very little physics in it -- just enough to make the story relevant.

Very interesting to hear from an 'inside man' the difficulties, both technical and political in building the 'H-Bomb.' Sometimes a little hard to follow, but lots of great history and anecdotes.

One hopes Ford was a better as a scientist than he is as a writer. The book is disjointed and full of odd details while lacking a satisfying conclusion.

A very good read. The conversational style really helped with delivering very technical information. The author jumps around a bit but he knits a great narrative.


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