Uranium (U – Atomic number 92) has photography in its history when Henri Becquerel had left a sample of Uranium, in his Paris lab in 1896, on top of a photographic plate. On development the plate appeared to have been exposed to something – and Henri deduced that some invisible rays were being given off – and radioactivity was discovered. The element had been first isolated, also in Paris, by Eugène Peligot 55 years earlier. In thinking of a photo for my Uranium post I thought back to several visits, when I was much younger, to several nuclear power stations in the UK. I had been fascinated by radiation and was fortunate to have visits to several plants both by arrangement from college – but also on family holidays. No photos though. I did however remember a photo with a Uranium connection – one I took at the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) – of a schematic of WE177 nuclear weapon attached to a replica of the last deployed air-launched nuclear bomb by the UK. I also remembered the photography conditions at FAST – were they were happy for people to take photos for personal use. And to be honest, my photo taken on a wet day wasn’t the best… However the schematic bore a copyright notice from Brian Burnell, and I was fortunate enough not only to find more information on Brian (the power of Bing!) – but to get permission to use his schematic in place of my poor photo. Thanks to Brian!
Brian has also captured background on this fascinating and chilling time in world history on his web site . Growing up through the 60’s and 70’s it is interesting reading Brian’s articles. Always know where your protractor is!
I’m a big fan of the potential for nuclear energy – and some countries have embraced and really succeeded with the technology – France for example – but there is the potential for disaster too. And we can never really know where we might be if nuclear weapons hadn’t been invented – but the genie is out of the bottle.
On a lighter note, much lighter (and the pun is there for those who want it) – next up is Argon – Atomic number 18.
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