Will First Nuclear Reactor Become A National Park?

McClatchy   |   November 22, 2007 09:47 PM

He was simply known as Mr. Farmer, and for three days he sat at a drafting table in a small office off the control room and used a slide rule and graph paper to try to figure out why the world's first nuclear reactor wasn't working.

It was the dawn of the nuclear age and the B Reactor, at the Hanford Engineer Works in the desolate sagebrush prairie of south-central Washington state was the cornerstone of the top-secret Manhattan Project to build a bomb and end World II before the Nazis and Japanese could.

Mr. Farmer was the cover name for Enrico Fermi, the Italian physicist who'd helped design the reactor from scratch -- a pile of 75,000 graphite blocks, 36 feet high, 36 feet wide and 28 feet deep, drilled through with 2,004 tubes holding enriched uranium fuel for a nuclear chain reaction that would produce plutonium. It was built in 11 months, a sort of seat-of-the-pants engineering feat that no one had done before.

Source: The Huffington Post