Polonium in the Playhouse: The Manhattan Project's Secret Chemistry Work in Dayton, Ohio by Linda Carrick Thomas

Polonium in the Playhouse: The Manhattan Project's Secret Chemistry Work in Dayton, Ohio

byLinda Carrick Thomas

Kobo ebook | May 21, 2017

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At the height of the race to build an atomic bomb, an indoor tennis court in one of the Midwest’s most affluent residential neighborhoods became a secret Manhattan Project laboratory. Polonium in the Playhouse: The Manhattan Project's Secret Chemistry Work in Dayton, Ohio presents the intriguing story of how this most unlikely site in Dayton, Ohio, became one of the most classified portions of the Manhattan Project.
Seized by the War Department in 1944 for the bomb project, the Runnymede Playhouse was transformed into a polonium processing facility, providing a critical radioactive ingredient for the bomb initiator—the mechanism that triggered a chain reaction. With the help of a Soviet spy working undercover at the site, it was also key to the Soviet Union’s atomic bomb program.
The work was directed by industrial chemist Charles Allen Thomas who had been chosen by J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves to coordinate Manhattan Project chemistry and metallurgy. As one of the nation’s first science administrators, Thomas was responsible for choreographing the plutonium work at Los Alamos and the Project’s key laboratories. The elegant glass-roofed building belonged to his wife’s family.
Weaving Manhattan Project history with the life and work of the scientist, industrial leader and singing-showman Thomas, Polonium in the Playhouse offers a fascinating look at the vast and complicated program that changed world history and introduces the men and women who raced against time to build the initiator for the bomb.

Title:Polonium in the Playhouse: The Manhattan Project's Secret Chemistry Work in Dayton, OhioFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:May 21, 2017Publisher:Ohio State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0814275036

ISBN - 13:9780814275030


Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful Whirlwind Tour of the Manhattan Project Much has been written about the Manhattan Project over the years. Most of the material that I’ve read deals with the physics as well as the overall history, logistics, personalities and post-war implications of the dawning of the nuclear age. This book focusses on the contributions of chemistry to the development of the atomic bomb. In particular, the isolation of polonium to be used as an important part of the bomb. In doing so, the author constructs a sweeping overview of the Manhattan Project as a whole, always keeping the chemistry activities in Dayton Ohio at the forefront, including key individuals – in particular, Charles Allen Thomas. I enjoyed this book very much, particularly since it contained much information of which I was not aware, i.e., much of the chemistry effort. I found the writing style to be clear, friendly and quite engaging. In such a book which is quite dense with information, errors can unfortunately creep in. In this case, I did find some but only a few, e.g., on page 97, towards the middle, the author discusses the initial discovery of fission having been made through a partnership between radiochemist “Otto Frisch” and physicist Lise Meitner. In fact the radiochemist was not Frisch but Otto Hahn. Frisch was a physicist and Meitner’s nephew. Nevertheless, I did not find that such relatively rare errors distracted me from the main theme which I found to be quite fascinating.
Date published: 2017-10-10