Glass from the Manhattan Project

Glass from the Manhattan Project, Hanford Site, Southeastern Washington.

The legacy of the Manhattan Project is with us today in ways both obvious and obscure.

The 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima is a terrible reminder of the power unleashed in nuclear fission.

The development of “the gadget,” as the physicists tasked with the creation of the weapon called the Trinity device, was shrouded in secrecy.

Few humans or objects involved in that effort are still around as witnesses to the enormity of the project.

Besides the well-known laboratories at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge, there were other, less prominent, but no less important facilities involved in the race to summon a modern day Mephistopheles to do our bidding and end a war.

Hanford, Washington was the third secret location involved, and the Hanford site was tasked with the production of the Plutonium, used in both the original Trinity test and “Fat Man:” the weapon destined for Nagasaki.

The processing of Plutonium involves some fairly simple chemistry made difficult by the need to isolate the radioactive material during processing.

This work was done in long rooms 80 feet high and 70 feet wide, called “canyons” for the obvious resemblance and in “hot cells,” smaller chambers where workers manipulated material using “waldos” – primitive remotely controlled manipulators, while the workers remained shielded by thick windows of leaded glass.

The Lot offered here is a part of one of those windows.

Made of glass that is 70% lead, a full sized window measures 16 inches by 26 inches and weighs 800 pounds. In the interest of portability, the window section offered here measures only 7.7 x 3.0 x 1.8 inches (19.5 x 7.6 x 4.4 cm) and still it weighs 9.19 pounds (4.169 Kg). A final note: this piece of nuclear history is not “hot.”



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