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[cdn-nucl-l] Canada, Entering The Nuclear Age (Legion Magazine)
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Sent: Saturday, September 13, 2003 3:50 PM
Subject: [MbrExchange] EnLG 2003sep Entering The Nuclear Age (Legion
Entering The Nuclear Age
by Jeremy Whitlock
Published in Legion Magazine (http://www.legionmagazine.ca/)
In September 1945, a month after the end of World War II, Canadians were
still getting used to the idea that the Atomic Age had begun. Two American
bombs of unimagined power had ended the hostilities, followed shortly by a
statement from the Canadian government that Canada had proudly played an
"intimate" role in their development.
PHOTO: ATOMIC ENERGY OF CANADA
Top: The Chalk River Laboratories was established during WW II on the Ottawa
River, about two hours west of Ottawa.
Inset: Nuclear research has been a benefit to cancer therapy.
Patriotism aside, it was true that Canada had participated in the
Anglo-American atomic bomb program, and had, by accident of geology and
geography, come out of the war with the world's second largest nuclear
infrastructure. The time would soon come to decide what to do with it, but
for now, a month after the war's biggest secret was out, the focus was still
very much on getting the job done.
Here, in a clearing on the wooded Ontario shoreline of the Ottawa River
about two hours west of Ottawa, Canada would become the second nation to
construct a working nuclear reactor. It was Sept. 5, almost a month to the
day after the Hiroshima bombing.
For Lew Kowarski it was a moment of personal closure. Five years earlier the
burly Russian-born scientist had escaped France aboard a collier on the eve
of Nazi occupation, with almost the world's entire supply of "heavy
water"--about 200 litres in 26 cans. Three months before that the precious
scientific cargo had been spirited out of Norway, just ahead of the German
invasion of that country. Once safely on English soil, Kowarski and fellow
refugee scientist Hans von Halban continued their experiments with uranium
and heavy water that they had pioneered in France.
By an extraordinary convergence of history, the most spectacular scientific
discovery of the century, the splitting of the atom (or fission), had been
discovered just prior to the outbreak of the largest global conflict in
history, and the discovery was made in Germany. Furthermore, many of the
practical advances in studying this new energy source were made in France,
and now all of that was in German hands.
etc etc for 7 pages