Today I have two articles about the Manhattan Project being published. The first is my graphic essay, The Blue Flash for BBC Future. The result of many months of research, it's a study of a fatal accident that happened at Los Alamos National Laboratories in May 1946. Louis Slotin was manually demonstrating a test procedure for plutonium cores when something went wrong. The essay draws on ideas about causality, human perception of hazard, and quantum mechanical theory to ask how and why the accident happened. I owe a debt of gratitude to Richard Fisher for commissioning the piece and for his patience while I worked out how on earth I was going to make it happen.
Thank you to Dan for having me on the show and to James Hickmann, the show's producer.
NOTE: I want to apologise to all listeners for my repeated mispronunciation of the name of Prince Arjuna from the Bhagavad Gita (which I say, twice, as 'Ajurna') in the interview. This was also something I got picked up on for misspelling in my BBC article about Oppenheimer. The two are not unrelated. In my defence I can only plead dyslexia. I am practicing saying it correctly quietly to myself, just in case I have to do it again.
Image: a preparatory study from a photograph taken by the historian Richard Hewlett, who reconstructed the Slotin accident for Los Alamos National Laboratories. The ball in the middle is the plutonium core, the big bowl-things are beryllium reflectors that increase the rate of reactivity.