The package came in the summer of 2013, the anonymous and the content was quite surprising, as Timothy Koeth and Miriam were Hiebert fixed. The two physicists who conduct research at the American University of Maryland, held an approximately five centimeters and a five-pound cube is only very weakly radioactive uranium in the Hand. At least as surprising was the attached note was tried: "From the reactor, to build the Hitler. A gift of Ninninger“.
Koeth and Hiebert were able to start with the cube at first, nothing. In fact, they belonged to a small group of scientists who collect such historical objects, such as Miriam Hiebert, who currently writes her doctoral thesis, reported in an Interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
several of the questions posed to the scientists after the receipt of the package: Could come of this uranium cube really from the atomic bomb research program of the third Reich? Whoever had made this strange gift? And who was this Ninninger, the two researchers completely unknown?
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Koeth and Hiebert began. The basic historical facts they knew, of course. Scientists from Nazi Germany had done research since 1941, the "bomb", because the Nazi leadership hoped to use the construction of an atomic bomb is a decisive advantage in the fight against the opponents of the war. The scientists were divided into three groups, which worked at three different locations: in Berlin, Leipzig and Gottow.Heisenberg hid in a cave
The Berlin-based group, under the leadership of the famous physicist Werner Heisenberg, was laid in the Winter of 1944, to southern Germany, because, due to the non-stop attacks on the Reich capital was at risk at work. The scientists buried in a cave below the castle of Haigerloch in the vicinity of Tübingen. Seven experiments with uranium was carried out in the Heisenberg group; in Haigerloch the eighth, called B-VIII.
picture alliance / Everett Colle
Heisenberg followed was described eight years later, the state of the researchers: The experimental nuclear reactor consisted of 664 uranium cubes with a weight of approximately five pounds. 78 aluminum cables, the cube hung strung on the lid of a boiler that was flooded with heavy water. The boiler was surrounded by a ring-shaped wall made of graphite, which should reflect the nuclear fission released neutrons. The Problem of A self-sustaining nuclear fission: – the prerequisite for the construction of a nuclear bomb – was not so accessible.
historians argue today about whether the German scientists had a Chance to build with your methods and means of a nuclear bomb. Finally, the nuclear physicist Manfred Popp denied, because you financial resources and the necessary work had missed opportunities. The German nuclear program was equipped in any way like the legendary "Manhattan Project", with which the Americans built in a much shorter time-the atomic bomb.More uranium than thought
But Popp was different than other scientists: the necessary amount of uranium the Germans had has quite. And exactly this realization Koeth and Hiebert. Further research to support this theory. Because when they made it, something about the origin of "their" uranium cube to find out, they came across documents that show that Germany had far more uranium than previously thought.
In Haigerloch 659 paged (Heisenberg spoke of 664) cube, and this number is not enough actually. "But the Design could work if the Germans would have used 50 percent more uranium cubes. Many scientists have thought for a long time, that the German scientists are not able to impossible to build a functioning nuclear reactor would have, because they had enough uranium," write Koeth and Hiebert in an article for the "Technology Review". But in fact, Heisenberg and his people had all these 50 per cent, uranium, and even more.a Surprising find in the archive
but the two scientists from Maryland come to your knowledge? They clarified first, irrefutably, that "your" dice actually came from Haigerloch. They were also able to show that he had never been a part of the reactor had reached criticality. Then they explored the question of how this dice came to the United States. There might have been more of them?
In their research, they met in the US national archives in a Box with the name of "the German uranium". The contents surprised them: It was hundreds only a short time before by the American authorities shared documents, in the German uranium cubes.
From these documents it appears that the Germans had, in addition to the above-mentioned 659 uranium cubes around 400 more. They belonged to another attempt by the group of researchers from Gottow, which had, however, been abandoned. You would have caused both stocks together would have been a in the truest sense of the word explosive accumulation of uranium. Because, "the combined inventory would be more than sufficient to reach in the B-VIII-reactor criticality", judge Koeth and Hiebert.
Heisenberg and co. would have only needed the heavy water. However, the person ran it and / or collegiate is not well between the German scientists. "The researchers were hostile to the other. The research Manager hated each other outright,“ said Miriam Hiebert. And this animosity might prevent a research of success – unlike in the US, where a much larger number of scientists, not only materially, significantly better equipped had been, but also closely together had worked.most of The German uranium was in the Soviet Union
In the course of this research, the question of what happened with all these uranium cubes after the war it became evident, at least in part. In Germany, a black-and-developed market with the Dice and such cubes were offered to the Americans to completely irrational prices. Because they rejected the purchase to beat the Soviets – a large part of this cube is likely to be hiked in the Soviet Union. There, however, their traces lose themselves.
a few landed in the United States, on a private way. This was also the case for the uranium cube from Maryland. It was taken in 1945, a man by the name of Robert D. Nininger, who was at the time of procurement of the uranium for the Manhattan Project in charge, from Germany to the USA and use it later to a friend as a gift.
With luck, Koeth found out who it is that Nininger was, the friend sent the cube, almost 70 years later, anonymous to him, and Hiebert. However, he wrote in his ominous note "From the reactor, to tried the Hitler building. A gift of Ninninger" the name incorrectly, namely with a double "n".The "bomb" set fire to, finally, the Americans
Timothy Koeth and Miriam Hiebert came so on the basis of the anonymous gift that had been sent to investigate some exciting findings about the Betting war between Americans and Germans during the Second world. The history of the uranium cube was the story of a scientific failure, "if failure, the it is worth to be celebrated to" my, the both of you. Because it was not possible for the researchers from Nazi Germany to build the atomic bomb. This dubious honor had finally the Americans. They did not hesitate also, the bomb in August 1945 on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to throw off – on an enemy that was already beaten to the ground.
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