Boondoggle

One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Atomic sex

Writing an article about the obsessively intricate details of the exact measurements and functionalities of an atomic bomb from over 60 years ago is, it seems, a prime facie example of something that is not really very interesting to anyone outside of the singularly dedicated group of atomic enthusiasts that apparently exists.  But that’s why you add sex to the mix:

Now that's a sexy bomb.

Now that's a sexy bomb.

In the standard historical accounts, the way that the bomb’s gun mechanism worked was by shooting a cylindrical “male” uranium projectile into a concave, stationary uranium target. This act of atomic coitus created a mass sufficient to produce a critical reaction…

The source of the error, Coster-Mullen recognized, was an assumption that every (male) researcher who studied the subject had made about the relation between projectile and target. These scholars had apparently been unable to conceive of an arrangement other than a “missionary position” bomb, in which a solid male projectile penetrated a vessel-like female target. But Coster-Mullen realized that a female-superior arrangement—in which a hollow projectile slammed down on top of a stationary cylinder of highly enriched uranium—yielded the correct size and mass.

I think it’s safe to say that once you use the phrase “atomic coitus,” readers might pay a little more attention.

(image of the — evidently female — atomic bomb “Little Boy” that was dropped over Hiroshima, from flickr user cormac 70 under a Creative Commonse license)

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December 19, 2008 - Posted by | History, Humor | ,

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