Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Atomic Bomb and WWII

My explanation of the famous equation. That's what it all comes down to, right? Anything x Very Big = also Very Big? :)

Every single day of this unit, the boys were saying, "Is TODAY the atomic bomb? Is TODAY the atomic bomb?" Finally we got to it. Having lived in Los Alamos while my dad worked at the lab there, I've always had a special interest in the Manhattan Project and the people who worked on it. My mom has lots of good books on the subject from our time in Los Alamos---just the portraits of their daily lives there (even the wives and children who were there with their physicist husbands) are really fascinating. I have pictures of me at the Trinity site when I was 3, but I don't remember it. I think I have some trinitite too. (I used to think my Uncle Hale worked on the Manhattan Project, but he didn't. He helped develop Radar, though.)

Anyway, I don't know what's more interesting, the history or the science! We had a unit on the Holocaust earlier this year, but we didn't cover the war with Japan at all, so we needed a brief recap of the timeline of World War II and an overview of Pearl Harbor, etc. This site has some interesting before and after pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (before and after the bombs were dropped). I wouldn't get too far into this page with kids as there are some very disturbing pictures of people and their injuries; we stayed away from those. (They are behind a link at the bottom of the page, though, so you shouldn't run into them by accident.) Whatever your feelings on the bomb (another reason I wouldn't get too far into that site), it's very sobering to see the pictures and think about the destruction caused. 

I liked the story of Lise Meitner, one of the discoverers of fission and a very interesting woman. I've always liked Marie Curie but I'd never even heard of Lise Meitner before. There's an element named after her now (Meitnerium)! (I liked this whole book, though it wasn't all pertinent to this unit: serendipitous discoveries are so cool!)

Of course we also listened to Manhattan Project, one of the best Rush songs ever. :) This one made a deep impression on me as a teenager and I've liked it ever since.

There are videos all over online that show atomic bomb explosions. The boys loved those. They are pretty awe-inspiring! This video was one of the most interesting, about the largest thermonuclear bomb ever detonated.

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