UNDERCITY.ORG
A guerrilla historian in Gotham
 

 

FINDING HISTORY IN RADIOACTIVE STORAGE ROOMS


 

THE CYCLOTRON



On January 5th, 1939, in the Pupin Physics lab at Columbia University, John Dunning used a cyclotron-- a primitive particle accelerator-- to split an atom for the first time in the United States. This was the first major step in the infamous Manhattan project.

John Dunning was one of a number of physicists connected with the project who worked at Columbia University; others included I.I. Rabi, Enrico Fermi, Harold Urey, and George Pegram. At that time, the University had a "Division of War Research;" George Pegram was later to head this division.

The Manhattan project and the physicists associated with it moved to Chicago in 1942, but the original cyclotron remained at Columbia as was used for many years. It was retired in 1965, but much of the machine, including the 30-ton cobalt-steel electromagnet shown here, had become radioactive and could not be safely moved. Some parts of the machine are now owned by the Smithsonian Institution. But the electromagnet and frame, which are still putting out gamma rays, remain stored in a locked basement of Pupin Physics Labs.



 


 

CRITICAL SPACE EQUIPMENT

 





Old computers in metal crates, marked with "NASA - CRITICAL SPACE EQUIPMENT - HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE."

 


 

THE BEAUTY OF COMPLEXITY