November 2017    
         
         
 
     
     
 
     
  Welcome to the second issue of µChicago, a monthly newsletter that offers a glimpse into the labs, fields, and minds of UChicago scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.

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--Maureen Searcy
Editor, µChicago
 
     
 
     
     
     
     
  Manhattan's critical moment  
     
     
  Seventy-five years ago, scientists at UChicago achieved the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear reaction.  
     
     
   
 
     
  Nuclear Thresholds, an art installation at the site of Henry Moore's Nuclear Energy sculpture, runs through January 7, 2018. (Photography by Drone Media Chicago)  
     
 
     
     
  The technologies born from nuclear research are powerful enough to change the world: nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, radiology, cancer treatments. But the enormous benefits and detriments of nuclear research came from humble origins.  
     
     
  The first man-made, self-sustaining, controlled nuclear reaction, created by the first nuclear reactor, named Chicago Pile-1, produced barely enough power for a light bulb.  
     
     
  Nobel Prize-winning Italian physicist Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard, the Hungarian physicist with whom he conceived the reactor, conducted the experiment along with a subset of Manhattan Project scientists code-named the Metallurgical Laboratory.  
     
     
   
 
     
  John Cadel's painting recreates the Chicago Pile-1 experiment. (Image courtesy Argonne National Laboratory)  
     
 
     
     
  The Met Lab attempted the reaction and succeeded in a single day, December 2, 1942, giving rise to the atomic age--and serious concerns among some scientists about its potential uses.  
     
     
  This fall UChicago has been marking the 75th anniversary of Chicago Pile-1 by considering the University's role and responsibility in shaping the world through nuclear research. A series of public events, Nuclear Reactions--1942: A Historic Breakthrough, an Uncertain Future, culminates in a two-day program December 1 and 2. We hope you will join us if you are in the area.  
     
 
 
 
     
  More about Chicago Pile-1  
     
     
 
     
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A Chicago Maroon editor in chief almost spilled the beans about the Manhattan Project.
 
     
     
     
     
 
     
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Goodyear created a giant square balloon to encase the pile but, unaware of the balloon's purpose, warned that it probably wouldn't fly.
 
     
     
     
     
 
     
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The top-secret status of the Manhattan Project gave Fermi's wife her "first vacation from physics" (PDF) since her wedding day.
 
     
     
     
     
 
     
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Argonne's nuclear piles were buried in 1956 and marked by gravestones.
 
     
     
     
     
 
     
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In commemoration of the 75th anniversary, the University of Chicago Magazine profiled the scientists who made CP-1 possible and the thinkers tending its ambivalent legacy today.
 
     
 
     
 
         
         
    Spotlight    
         
         
 
     
     
  1942: UChicago's race to the first nuclear reaction  
     
     
   
     
     
  Chicago Pile-1 was built over a frantic 15 days, the reaction attempted and achieved one day after its completion. Learn about the circumstances that had these scientists racing against the clock, and then read an account from the last living witness to atomic history.  
     
 
 
 
 
 
     
  In case you missed it  
     
 
 
Three's a crowd: A marine love triangle offers a glimpse into cephalopod intelligence.
 
 
Uncharted: Scientists discuss how they handle setbacks.
 
     
 
     
  Support physical sciences at UChicago.  
     
 
     
 
     
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