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Monday, October 17, 2016

Touring a Nuclear Reactor

Geek out time! We got to tour Reactor B at the Hanford Nuclear Site a couple of weeks ago. It is awesome. In all meanings of the word.  This is the place where all of the plutonium and enriched uranium were generated for the nuclear bombs. It's amazing how much was accomplished in such a short time. The whole huge reactor was built on theory because there really wasn't time for a lot of development. That was done as it was built, as much as they could. It is incredible that the reactor worked as well as it did. It's well worth the several hours it takes for the tour.

This is the reactor face. It is huge and not a silicon chip in sight. It's all knobs and tubes and dials and switches and big honking wheels that turn things. It's also about three stories tall.

This is a model of the reactor showing the construction in the cutaway area. It is intricate to say the least. They did what they could to shield workers and others from radiation.

Pictures of the control room. This is only a quarter of the controls that were in the room. I seriously want to dig a basement under my house so I can build me a room that looks like this and I can play spaceship commander in it.

This was on display in the break room. The topic caught my eye because we discussed the Learning Machine from the 50s in one of my education classes.

The reactor project took only eleven months from start to operation. This website has a lot more information on the project and the camp that was built for the workers who managed this miracle. The sites are well worth browsing and reading.

It's a very complex piece of engineering and physics and a huge part of our history that not many people know. If you're in Washington near Richland, check it out. I'm not sure which impressed me more - the mechanical/engineering side of things or the human stories involved in this project. Both are well worth exploring.

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