Science: New Toys

For the first time since 1940, U.S. physicists could talk about atomic fission without looking over their shoulders. The subject of The Bomb itself was taboo at the annual midwest meeting of the American Physical Society in Chicago; but there was plenty more for the atomic scientists to talk about.

Fishing Probabilities. Swaggering little Enrico Fermi, who put the match to history's first atomic chain reaction, led off with a circumstantial account of how a chain-reacting pile works.

A typical pile is a 20-foot block of graphite (pure carbon) interlarded with lumps of fissionable...

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