terça-feira, 28 de fevereiro de 2012

Michael Lennick's "Dr. Teller's Very Large Bomb" (2006) and How the "Ivy Mike" Device was fired "The Dark Sun" - Richard Rhodes (1995)

A scene from the PBS documentary "Dr. Teller's Very Large Bomb" (with perhaps a bit too much information on how to build your own hydrogen bomb.) (Full program available at www.foolishearthling.com)


While scientists race to produce a bomb capable of incinerating an entire city, Dr. Teller has a bigger idea.

Featuring Richard Rhodes, Freeman Dyson and the final interviews with Edward Teller ("Father of the Hydrogen Bomb") and Hans Bethe (Manhattan Project Head of Theoretical Physics), this PBS special recreates the Cold War invention of the Hydrogen Bomb in both America and the Soviet Union, and the nuclear free-for-all that followed.


Reviews for Dr. Teller's Very Large Bomb:

Television: DOCS & TALK

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand this story of the hydrogen bomb and Edward Teller, the American physicist who created it. Canadian Michael Lennick, who wrote and directed this documentary, does all the heavy lifting. There are even pretty animated graphic sequences to show just how all that complicated fusion/fission stuff works. But that's not really what this film is about. It's about the inherent irony of weapons too terrifying to use. And the strange dichotomy embodied by the brilliant minds that set the world's scariest contest of macho posturing in motion. As British physicist Freeman Dyson points out: "If you look at the internal design of a bomb, it's just so damn clever and neat. And to think with that, you can lift a million tons of rock into the sky. It gives you a feeling of omnipotence which is very seductive." For Lennick, the film was a labor of love, "or as much love as one can generate for a tale about a group of wise and kindly family men who dedicated their lives to the creation of some of the most insidious and horrifying devices the world has ever seen." Featuring a hard-won final interview with Teller -- Lennick had to audition for six months to earn the right -- and footage of beautifully deadly bomb tests, the documentary sets off its own series of chain reactions."

Henrietta Walmark
The Globe and Mail
January 12th, 2007
(In advance of a PBS airing)

"...excellent doc recreates the Cold War invention of this horrendous weapon and tells the story of the mass hysteria that took place between the U.S. and Russia with great film footage, animations, stills and wonderful editing. There are interviews with Teller and other big players, including Hans Bethe, Freeman Dyson and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes. The story has an almost black comedy feel except that there is nothing funny about it. Terrific film for history buffs or anyone who wants to find out how the arms race escalated into high gear. If you think we live in scary times now..."

Donnie and Jeannie Hill
2006 Santa Fe Film Festival

Born in Toronto, Michael Lennick is a documentary filmmaker who has written and directed film and television series on space travel and technology for over 25 years. He is currently president and CEO of Foolish Earthling Productions, which has produced programming for The Discovery Channel, PBS, and other channels. His documentary "Dr. Teller's Very Large Bomb" chronicles the Manhattan Project and aired in 2006.


Citizens Of Space - Documentary special (2010)
Canamedia Film Prod

The Land of Space and Time - Documentary feature (2009)
Canamedia Film Prod

10,000 Shiftless Nights - Documentary Special (2008)
OMNI Television (Canada)

Dr. Teller's Very Large Bomb - documentary special (2006)
PBS/Canamedia Distrib.

Making Space - Documentary featurette (2006)
Criterion Films (New York)

Atomic Recall - Documentary featurette (2006)
Criterion Films (New York)

Corridor Gossip - Documentary featurette (2006)
Criterion Films (New York)

Haunted Memories - Documentary featurette (2006)
Criterion Films (New York)

Forging the New Flesh - Documentary special (2004)
Criterion Films (New York)

Rocket Science - 13 hour documentary series (2002/3)
Discovery Channel (Canada)

The Highest Step in the World - Documentary special (2001)
Discovery Channel (Canada)

2001 & Beyond - documentary special (2001)
Discovery Channel (Canada)

Illegal Alien - screenplay only
Intuition Films / Keri Selig (Los Angeles)

Splat! - segments - writer/director
Teletoon/Cartoon Network

The Science of Fiction - 10 part series (1996/97)
Discovery Channel (Canada)

The Last STAR WARS Retrospective- documentary (1997)
Discovery Channel (Canada)

Apollo One - documentary special (1997)
Discovery Channel (Canada)

Symphonies of Fire - documentary short (1996)
Discovery Channel (Canada)

CinemALIENS - documentary series (1996)
Discovery Channel (Canada)

Alternate Worlds - documentary series (1995)
Discovery Channel (Canada)

Crossing the Line - 30 minute documentary (1995)
CBC & The John Howard Society

Pat Travers in Concert - live TV concert special (1994)
Producer - Robert Dunne

Revolving Door - 30 second PSA (1994)
Produced by The John Howard Society
Wonderstruck - weekly science series - various segments (1988 - 93)

OWL/TV - writer / director / performer ("Bonapart the Skeleton") (1982-1993)

Different Worlds - commissioned short film - writer only (1986)
EXPO '86

Vista - The New Magicians - 1 hour documentary (1985)
TV Ontario / PBS

Comedy Jam - comedy series - staff writer (1985)
CBC TV/ Insight Productions Ltd.

Yuk Yuks Laff Line - series of three TV commercials (1984)
Producer: Mark Breslin

Film Magic - 22 episode kid's visual effects series (1983)

Kidbits - 65 episode kid's science series (1983)

Space Movie - comedy short (1983)
Co-producer: Michael W. Hadley

The All-Night Show - co-creator/writer/director 302 episodes (1980-81)
MTV CH. 47

Comicon - 1/2 hour documentary (1976)
Executive Producer: Phil Seuling (New York)

CITY-TV (Toronto) (1974)
News & Feature Cameraman/
Editor/Master Control Operator

"Emanations" - c o-creator / co-writer - dramatic series (2005)
CBC Radio

"Apollo Ascending" - a uthor of science / history book (2005)
Apogee Press

Regular lecturer - Ryerson University, York University, University of Toronto, Ontario Science Center and elsewhere (1990 - 2005)

See also my Interview with Richard Rhodes
English transcript coming soon!

"After the Mike secondary had been filled with liquid deuterium, Wechsler recalls, "we waited a few days to see that everything was stable." The last step in the assembly process was inserting the new primary core. Schreiber was in charge of the pit crew. "They knew what they were doing," he says lightly; "I provided moral support." The Mike casing had a manhole near the top end. "You could use the manhole for loading." The primary pit and core went in on the afternoon of October 31. "Then they buttoned the Mike gadget up." A final dewar of liquid hydrogen to top off the reflux cooler came over at nine-thirty that night. The arming team completed its checklist shortly after midnight on the morning of November 1, 1952, and boarded the Estes, which sailed from Eniwetok lagoon at 3:15 A.M. to a point about ten miles beyond the southern rim of the atoll, thirty miles from ground zero. The wind, which had been only marginally favorable on October 31, shifted to southerly at midnight, a direction that would blow the fallout away from the atoll into the unpopulated Pacific north of ground zero, ideal for the shot.
Two primitive but state-of-the-art television cameras broadcast images of the gauges monitoring Mike's systems—monitor dials and timing-signal and go-no-go indicators—to the firing room aboard the Estes. "I sat there all that night watching those damned things," Wechsler recalls, "taking notes. We made tables ahead of time of what the pressure balances would be and what this meant in terms of temperature and how full things were. So we knew what we wanted it to be and we knew when a deviation might be excessive. Nothing was moving. Your eyes play tricks on you after a while. We'd had lots of discussion about whether we might get a little bubble. If we did, we needed to know how big it might be, because it might affect the yield. But as near as we could tell that night, [the secondary] was full and it stayed full. Everything worked just the way it was supposed to."
H-hour for the Mike shot was 7:15 A.M., November 1, local time (October 31 in the United States). Before then, B-29 canister-drop, C-54 photo and B-47 and B-36 effects aircraft began orbiting at altitudes from ten to forty thousand feet at prescribed distances and compass headings from ground zero. Three 250-watt Motorola independent radio links communicated manual timing signals, automatic-sequence-timer start and emergency stop signals between the Estes and Elugelab. Automatic countdown sequencing began at H-15 minutes. Two sniffer F-84 jets flew into position at forty thousand feet two minutes prior to H-hour, ready to flank the Mike cloud and take samples. At H -1 minutes, loudspeakers aboard the ships of the task force instructed the thousands of military and civilian personnel to put on high-density goggles or turn away and cover their eyes. A momentary power failure aboard the Estes threw off the timing sequence by half a second, an unnerving stutter; Mike fired at 0714:594 ± 0.2, November 1, 1952.
When the radio signal from the Estes control room reached Mike, the capacitors in the Mike primary, already charged by the primary battery, discharged into a harness of electrical cables around the primary that carried the high-voltage current simultaneously to the ninety-two electric detonators inserted into the primary's high-explosive shell. (The increased number of detonators in the Mike primary made it possible to shape an implosion without using bulky high-explosive lenses, one way the TX-V device was made smaller and more transparent to radiation.) All ninety-two detonators fired with microsecond simultaneity; a detonation wave spread from each detonator, met other spreading donation waves moving inward and concentrating, emerged from the explosives as a shock wave, crossed to the aluminum pusher shell vaporizing as it passed, rocketed the pusher inward, crossed next to the primary's heavy uranium tamper, liquefied and vaporized the tamper, moved the material to the uranium shell of the core, hammered the uranium shell inward across an air gap to the plutonium ball levitated within, hammered the plutonium ball and crushed the Urchin initiator levitated at the center of the assembly. At that moment of maximum compression, with the vaporizing mass of uranium and plutonium supercritical, the shock wave shaped by the Munroe-effect grooves in the beryllium shell of the Urchin sliced through the shell and mixed beryllium with the polonium plated onto the ball of beryllium inside; alpha particles from the radioactive polonium knocked half a dozen neutrons from the beryllium;
the neutrons ejected into the surrounding supercritical mass of uranium and plutonium and a chain reaction began.
Eighty generations later—a few millionths of a second—X-radiation from the furiously heating fission fireball hotter than the center of the sun escaped the primary mass entirely, began to ablate the blast shield over the Mike secondary and flooded down the cylindrical radiation channel inside the Mike casing. Instantly the radiation penetrated the thick polyethylene lining of the casing and heated it to a plasma. The plasma reradiated X rays that shone simultaneously from all sides inward onto the surface of the heavy uranium pusher, heating it instantly to ablation. The ablating surface of the pusher drove it explosively inward even as it liquefied and vaporized. The intense pulse of pressure concentrated as it moved inward, closed the first vacuum gap, compressed the floating thermal shield, closed the next vac¬uum gap, compressed the outer and inner dewars, encountered the deep, cold mass of liquid deuterium, compressed the deuterium inward and started to heat it. As the pressure pulse that was heating the deuterium to thermonuclear temperatures converged upon itself down the long axis of the secondary, it encountered the fission sparkplug, imploded that cylindrical system and activated a second fission explosion boosted with high-energy neutrons from fusion reactions in the tritium gas the sparkplug compressed.
All these processes, proceeding through microseconds, prepared Mike for thermonuclear burning. Now the escaping X-radiation of the fissioning sparkplug heated the compressed deuterium at its boundaries; the increasing thermal motion of the deuterium nuclei pushed them together until they passed the barrier of electrostatic repulsion between them and came within range of the nuclear strong force, at which point they began to fuse. Some fused to form a helium nucleus—an alpha particle—with the release of a neutron, the alpha and the neutron sharing an energy of 327 MeV. The neutron passed through the electrified mass of fusing deuterons and escaped, but the positively charged alpha dumped its energy into the heating deuterium mass and helped heat it further.
Other deuterium nuclei fused to form a tritium nucleus with the release of a proton, the triton and the proton sharing 4.03 MeV. The positively charged proton dumped more energy into the deuterium mass. The tritium nucleus fused in turn with another deuterium nucleus to form an alpha particle and a high-energy neutron that shared 17.59 MeV. The 14-MeV neutrons from this reaction began to escape the hot, compressed deuterium plasma and encountered the U238 nuclei of the vaporized uranium pusher. U238 fissions when it captures neutrons with energies above 1 MeV; so the U238 of the uranium pusher began to fission then under the intense neutron bombardment, flooding more X rays back into the deuterium mass from the outside just as the sparkplug fission reaction was radiating them from the inside, trapping the deuterium between two violent walls of heat and pres¬sure. Deuterium-bred tritium fused with tritium as well, producing a helium nucleus and two neutrons that shared 11.27 MeV of energy. At lower orders of probability, deuterium captured a neutron and bred tritium; deuterium-bred helium fused with deuterium and made heavy helium plus a highly energetic proton, or captured a neutron and bred tritium plus a proton. All these reactions contributed to the force of the Mike explosion.


D + D —>3 He + n + 3.27 MeV (1)
D + D —> T + p + 4.03 MeV (2)
D + T —»4He + n + 17.59 MeV (3)
T + T-VHe + n + n + 11.27 MeV (4)
6 Li + n —> 4 He + T + 4.78 MeV (5)
3 He + D—> 4He + p + 18.35 MeV (6)
D = 2H (deuterium); T = 3H (tritium)

Moving outward from the cauldron of the secondary as gamma and X-radiation and as escaping high-energy neutrons, that explosion swelled back across the path the radiation-driven implosion had taken. Just as the big uranium pusher had served as a tamper for the secondary, so the thick, lead-lined Mike casing served as a tamper for the entire complex explosion, holding it together a few microseconds longer to give the fuel more time to react, but massive as the casing was, bomblight from its outer surface re-vealed the breakthrough of the developing explosion before the mass had time even to swell, much less to move.
Once the explosion broke through the casing, it expanded in seconds to a blinding white fireball more than three miles across (the Hiroshima fire¬ball had measured little more than one-tenth of a mile) and rose over the horizon like a dark sun; the crews of the task force, thirty miles away, felt a swell of heat as if someone had opened a hot oven, heat that persisted long enough to seem menacing. 'You would swear that the whole world was on fire," one sailor wrote home who turned around like Lot's wife to look. For a moment the fireball seemed to hover; then it began to rise. Los Alamos radiochemist George Cowan, a precise man whose ingenious tests would help measure Mike's yield, was there that day:
I was stunned. I mean, it was big. I'd been trying to visualize what it was going to be like, and I'd worked out a way to calibrate the shot. The initial fireball I guess I calibrated by holding up a quarter. If the quarter would cover the fireball then the yield would be less than something; if the fireball were bigger than the quarter, then it would be more than some-thing. The question was, looking through my dark glasses, could I cover the fireball with a quarter. And I couldn't, so I knew it was big. As soon as I dared, I whipped off my dark glasses and the thing was enormous, bigger than I'd ever imagined it would be. It looked as though it blotted out the whole horizon, and I was standing on the deck of the Estes, thirty miles away.

Momentarily, the huge Mike fireball created every element that the uni-verse had ever assembled and bred artificial elements as well. "In nanosec-onds," writes the physicist Philip Morrison, "uranium nuclei captured neutron upon neutron to form isotopes in measurable amounts all the way from 239U up to mass number 255. Those quickly decayed, to produce a swath of transuranic species from uranium up to element 100, first isolated from that bomb debris and named fermium."
Swirling and boiling, glowing purplish with gamma-ionized light, the expanding fireball began to rise, becoming a burning mushroom cloud balanced on a wide, dirty stem with a curtain of water around its base that slowly fell back into the sea. The wings of the B-36 orbiting fifteen miles from ground zero at forty thousand feet heated ninety-three degrees almost instantly. In a minute and a half, the enlarging fireball cloud reached 57,000 feet; in two and a half minutes, when the shock wave arrived at the Estes, the cloud passed 100,000 feet. The shock wave announced itself with a sharp report followed by a long thunder of broken rumbling. After five minutes, the cloud splashed against the stratopause and began to spread out, its top cresting at twenty-seven miles, its stem eight miles across. "It really filled up the sky," notes Raemer Schreiber, who had seen shots before and was not easily impressed. "It was awesome. It just went on and on." At its farthest extent, the Mike cloud billowed out above a thirty-mile stem to form a huge canopy more than one hundred miles wide that loomed over the atoll. Radioactive mud fell out, followed by heavy rain.
Down below, Elugelab had vanished. The fireball had vaporized the entire island, leaving behind a circular crater two hundred feet deep and more than a mile across filled with seawater, a dark blue hole punched into the paler blue of the shallow atoll lagoon. The explosion vaporized and lifted into the air some eighty million tons of solid material that would fall out around the world."

Richard Rhodes. The Dark Sun. The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb.New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 504-509.

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