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The Joshua Lederberg Papers

Title:
Letter from Joshua Lederberg to T. R. Hogness Annotation pdf (56,971 Bytes) ocr (1,315 Bytes)
Letter from Joshua Lederberg to T. R. Hogness
Description:
Item is a photocopy.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (56,971 Bytes)
Date:
1949-11-25 (November 25, 1949)
Creator:
Lederberg, Joshua
Recipient:
Hogness, T. R.
Rights:
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Relation:
Lederberg Grouping: Correspondence B
Box Number: 7
Folder Number: 83
Unique Identifier:
BBAEHG
Accession Number:
8
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Language:
English
Format:
application/pdf
image/tif
Physical Condition:
Good
Series: Correspondence, 1935-2002
SubSeries: 1947-1953
Folder: Hogness, T. R.
Metadata Last Modified Date:
2005-05-25
Linked Data:
RDF/XML     JSON     JSON-LD     N3/Turtle     N-Triples

Annotation by Joshua Lederberg:
Node:  Slotin, Louis.  Los Alamos physicist and close friend of
Aaron Novick.
N.B. dramatization reviewed in NY Times:
April 10, 2001
'Louis Slotin Sonata': A Scientist's Tragic Hubris Attains Critical Mass Onstage
By BRUCE WEBER
On May 21, 1946, Louis Slotin, a physicist working on the bomb
development in a secret laboratory near Los Alamos, N.M., was demonstrating a
procedure known as a crit test. The test was meant to verify that
the plutonium core of an atomic bomb had the right size and heft
the critical mass  to sustain the chain reaction among atomic
particles that would cause an explosion. Performing the test was
risky; Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, referred
to it as "tickling the dragon's tail."

But Slotin (pronounced SLOE-tin) had done it so many times, often
pushing the limits of safety to attain better data. This time,
however, his hand slipped at a crucial moment, the core "went
critical," and Slotin was zapped with a dose of radiation that
killed him after nine days of increasing agony. The other men in
the room were also exposed, but they survived, largely because
Slotin absorbed most of the radiation. Some thought him a hero.
;                   
KW: U-Chicago steps towards my possible recruitment;  I gave Slotin Memorial
Lectures there in Novemnber 1949.

jl  4/10/01