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Manhattan Project and Heinlein
http://www.heinleinsociety.org/thsnexus/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1709
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Author:  BillMullins [ Sun May 14, 2017 6:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Manhattan Project and Heinlein

Apparently, Heinlein's (and Cartmill's) stories about atomic weapons were discussed by the participants in the Manhattan Project -- a point I've never seen made before.

And Benford's novel looks interesting.

Author:  PeterScott [ Sun May 14, 2017 8:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Manhattan Project and Heinlein

Good spot. Is the novel about the 3rd Reich getting the bomb first?

Author:  mostlyclassics [ Mon May 15, 2017 6:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Manhattan Project and Heinlein

Thanks for the heads-up on the Benford book, BillMullins! It's now on my amazon.com shopping list.

Author:  beamjockey [ Tue May 16, 2017 11:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Manhattan Project and Heinlein

BillMullins wrote:
Apparently, Heinlein's (and Cartmill's) stories about atomic weapons were discussed by the participants in the Manhattan Project -- a point I've never seen made before.

I'm not aware of any previous direct evidence that these SF stories were discussed. Ed Wysocki has been alert to any such evidence, and so have I.

It's easy to make a circumstantial case for the idea. "Blowups Happen" was published in 1940, "Solution Unsatisfactory" in 1941, these preceded the start of the Manhattan Project proper, scientists were commonly SF readers, and we can name a few who read Astounding regularly.

Gregory Benford heard from Teller, who was at Los Alamos, that scientists talked about Heinlein's stories (among others). I believe this is the first solid testimony I've seen. Wish he had said more than one sentence about it. Perhaps he could be persuaded to write more.

Wells's atomic-bomb story The World Set Free does appear in accounts of the era, notably from Leo Szilard.

Author:  Blackhawk [ Fri May 19, 2017 8:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Manhattan Project and Heinlein

Thanks. Benford's book sounds like something I will enjoy.

Author:  BillMullins [ Sun May 21, 2017 11:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Manhattan Project and Heinlein

There's an interview with Benford at Scientific American's website here.

In it, he confirms (without sources or details) not only that Von Braun had a subscription to Astounding through the German embassy in Stockholm (which I thought had been discussed here, but cannot find), but also that Von Braun read of the use of radioactive material as a weapon in RAH's "Solution Unsatisfactory", and passed the idea on to Albert Speer, who would have been able to relay it to the highest levels of the Nazi leadership. Again, something I've never seen confirmed before. (and I've read most of the biographies of Von Braun, but not of Speer).

(and I'm currently at chapter 5 of The Berlin Project, and enjoying it)

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