Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Boys Will Be Boys
Here's another interesting excerpt from Tom Zoellner's Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock That Shaped the World:
In 1951, three boys in the prairie town of Dahlhart, Texas, discovered a black rock lying near the railroad tracks. It was weirdly heavy -- thirty pounds -- though only about the size of a hamburger. The boys found that it made colorful sparks when they pounded on it with a hammer. The editor of the local newspaper believed it might be a meteor and sent it off to the University of New Mexico for testing. The rock turned out to be highly enriched uranium, apparently stolen from Los Alamos. An even bigger chunk of it was discovered in a nearby junkyard. If slammed together correctly, these two pieces would have leveled everything within ten miles.When I read that to my wife, she asked, "Why is it that the first thing boys do when they find something is to pound on it with a hammer?!"