AUTHORZeilig, Martin
TITLELouis Slotin and the Invisible Killer
PERIODICAL TITLEThe Beaver
DATE PUBLISHED1995
VOLUME NUMBER75
ISSUE NUMBER4
PAGE NUMBERS20-26
ISSN0005-7517
Web Access
Available online from Atomic Heritage Foundation


This article provides a brief biography of the life of Louis P. Slotin, the chief bomb builder of the Manhattan Project. It begins with a dramatic account of the moment in which the scientist made his fatal mishap: the screw driver he was using to separate the two halves of a plutonium sphere for a bomb slipped, which resulted in a chain reaction that exposed him to nearly 1,000 rads of radiation that eventually killed him. While the article contains basic information about Slotin's life and studies, it focuses mainly on the details of the accident, his death and funeral, and accounts of him from his parents and others who knew him. The article indicates that Slotin's "hero" status has been contested: some members of the scientific community commend his bravery for absorbing the majority of the radiation, while others maintain that the accident could have easily been avoided had Slotin exercised more caution. The article is available on a page of the Atomic Heritage Foundation's website that also contains other short historical accounts of accidents in the Manhattan Project.


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