Famous wines in history … 2nd December
it turns out that Miles was not the first
"Seventy-five years ago, history was made in a dank squash court buried underneath the bleachers of the University of Chicago football field: On December 2, 1942, physicist Enrico Fermi and his colleagues started up the world’s “first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.”
It was a nerve-racking day. If the reaction went off the rails, a “Suicide Squad” of three unlucky physicists was prepared to stop the reaction by dousing the uranium with an elixir of cadmium sulfate. Physicist Norman Hilberry stood in the wings holding an axe, prepared to cut a rope that held an emergency control rod.
None of the safeguards were necessary. In the end, the experiment went off without a hitch, including a break for lunch (1:30), and the day ended with everybody drinking Chianti from paper cups.
The experiment, part of the Manhattan Project, helped lead to both the nuclear power industry and the atomic bomb—although that first reaction was too weak to power even a light bulb. Samuel Allison, a physicist who helped build the reactor, wrote at the time: “All of us … knew that with the advent of the chain reaction, the world would never be the same again.”
from Quartz Obsession report