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The Alsos Mission was an organized effort by a team of British and United States military, scientific, and intelligence personnel to discover enemy scientific developments during World War II. Its chief focus was on the German nuclear energy project, but it also investigated chemical and biological weapons and the means to deliver them.

The Alsos Mission was created after the September 1943 Allied invasion of Italy as part of the Manhattan Project's mission to coordinate foreign intelligence related to enemy nuclear activity. The team had a twofold assignment: search for personnel, records, material, and sites to evaluate the above programs and prevent their capture by the Soviet Union. Alsos personnel followed close behind the front lines in Italy, France, and Germany, occasionally crossing into enemy-held territory to secure valuable resources before they could be destroyed or scientists escape or fall into rival hands.

The Alsos Mission was commanded by Colonel Boris Pash, a former Manhattan Project security officer, with Samuel Goudsmit as chief scientific advisor. It was jointly staffed by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), the Manhattan Project, and Army Intelligence (G-2), with field assistance from combat engineers assigned to specific task forces.

Alsos teams were successful in locating and removing a substantial portion of the German research effort's surviving records and equipment. They also took most of the senior German research personnel into custody, including Otto Hahn, Max von Laue, Werner Heisenberg and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker. (Full article...)

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Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory
The Krakatau subcritical experiment is being prepared to be lowered into the floor of the tunnel of the U1a Complex at the Nevada Test Site.

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James Franck (German pronunciation: [ˈdʒɛɪ̯ms ˈfʁaŋk] ; 26 August 1882 – 21 May 1964) was a German physicist who won the 1925 Nobel Prize for Physics with Gustav Hertz "for their discovery of the laws governing the impact of an electron upon an atom". He completed his doctorate in 1906 and his habilitation in 1911 at the Frederick William University in Berlin, where he lectured and taught until 1918, having reached the position of professor extraordinarius. He served as a volunteer in the German Army during World War I. He was seriously injured in 1917 in a gas attack and was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class.

Franck became the Head of the Physics Division of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft for Physical Chemistry. In 1920, Franck became professor ordinarius of experimental physics and Director of the Second Institute for Experimental Physics at the University of Göttingen. While there he worked on quantum physics with Max Born, who was Director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics. His work included the Franck–Hertz experiment, an important confirmation of the Bohr model of the atom. He promoted the careers of women in physics, notably Lise Meitner, Hertha Sponer and Hilde Levi.

After the Nazi Party came to power in Germany in 1933, Franck resigned his post in protest against the dismissal of fellow academics. He assisted Frederick Lindemann in helping dismissed Jewish scientists find work overseas, before he left Germany in November 1933. After a year at the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, he moved to the United States, where he worked at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and then the University of Chicago. During this period he became interested in photosynthesis.

Franck participated in the Manhattan Project during World War II as Director of the Chemistry Division of the Metallurgical Laboratory. He was also the chairman of the Committee on Political and Social Problems regarding the atomic bomb, which is best known for the compilation of the Franck Report, which recommended that the atomic bombs not be used on the Japanese cities without warning. (Full article...)

Nuclear technology news

13 September 2023 – Russian invasion of Ukraine
Rosatom chief Alexei Likhachev says Ukraine launched a drone strike on Enerhodar near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant with all six drones being destroyed. (Reuters)
9 September 2023 – Russian invasion of Ukraine
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant crisis
The International Atomic Energy Agency warns of a nuclear threat at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant after explosions were heard near the plant amidst the Ukrainian counteroffensive. (PBS News)
3 September 2023 – Nuclear program of Iran
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says that Iran has started talks to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. (Tehran Times)

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