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Summer 1995

Volume 11, Issue 1


FOR MUCH OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY , machines were often made extravagantly ornate and colorful, or built to look like Roman temples or Gothic cathedrals. And there were reasons for this.
THE SHOPS, YARDS, AND BUILDINGS OF THE EAST BROAD TOP were already antiques when the line shut down forty years ago. Since then they have stayed virtually untouched, and today they give the best picture available anywhere of how steam railroads went about their daily business.

Before an atomic bomb could be designed, there had to be controlled, sustained nuclear fission. Enrico Fermi and his crew made it work.

After World War II the benefits of atomic power seemed virtually unlimited, if only we could control it and ourselves. Half a century later we’re still here—and still burning coal.

Deak Parsons made sure that the Manhattan Project’s scientific theories got converted into a weapon of awesome destructive force. He oversaw the ordnance design; he made scientists, engineers, and military men work together; he set up and equipped assembly facilities and machine shops thousands of miles from home. And when the Enola Gay took off for Hiroshima, Parsons was on board to complete assembly of the bomb.

FIRST CONCEIVED IN THE EARLY 1950s, they were right around the corner by 1968. Then all the technical problems began to look insurmountable.

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

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