Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Interesting Films on Netflix

"Die Suche Nach Hitlers Bombe": The Search for Hitler's Atom Bomb collects evidence from French and Russian intelligence files that suggests Hitler was either very close to having a nuclear weapon, or may have actually tested a small, Kim Jong Un sized one in Thuringia.  Interesting interviews with children of people who investigated it at the end of the war.

Hence the pressure to get our bomb ready in early 1945.


hga said...

I've read about this as part of learning a lot in detail about the Manhattan Project and the end of the war in the Pacific, and unless all the primary, and the best of the secondary sources are lying or incorrect, plus common sense in science and engineering, they were never close. In short:

The effort never got serious support from the state.

This was in part because they didn't get the fast fission insight to a practical bomb that's in the Frisch-Peierls memorandum, although somewhat more fissionable material was needed than they calculated, but not tons.

They intended to use heavy water moderation, which we sabotaged pretty well, because the one attempt they made with graphite failed due to neutron poisoning impurities, something we struggled a great deal with. We did find an incomplete heavy water reactor.

In general, if they'd done everything right, used for example the resources that were put in V weapons, and managed to devote enough scarce electrical energy on this (a food based choke-point that in part motivated the invasion of the USSR), it was possible they'd have succeeded in the plutonium path.

As it was, with our initial missteps until Grove was put in charge, and the extremes to which he went with a very large budget and the 2nd highest wartime priority after the super-Mulberry artificial harbor for the invasion of Honshuu, the main island of Japan, from multiple paths to really pushing hard on fissionable production, plus many right choices in people and handling them, we barely managed to bomb Japan before the first scheduled home island invasion.

Rich Rostrom said...

Umm, this film is complete rubbish. We know everything about German nuclear research - we captured all their files at the war. All their researchers, too - they had no clue how to build an actual Bomb, and were working, in a very feeble way, on a nuclear reactor for submarine power.

If the Allies had turned around and left Germany completely after 1944, Germany could have eventually developed the Bomb, but it would have taken them five to ten years.