What’s the common expression that came as a result of old nuclear reactors?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 06, 2020 03:53 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 06, 2020 03:53 PM

When Enrico Fermi built and tested the reactor that would create mankind’s first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction under the stands of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago, he included two types of neutron-absorbing “control rods” to control the reaction (optimistic son-of-a-gun that he was). The main control rods could be adjusted horizontally in and out of the reactor manually to fine-tune the reaction.

In case of an unexpected rapid reaction, however, or one that proved uncontrollable by the horizontal rods, he also included an emergency control rod that could quickly drop by gravity into the reactor. The emergency control rod was suspended by a rope and pulley above the reactor, and the line continued down to where a team member was stationed, ready to cut the rope with an ax if necessary.

This person was called the Safety Control Rod Ax Man (S.C.R.A.M.), and thence came the term used ever since for an emergency reactor shutdown.

BONUS: Since this experiment was part of the super-secret Manhattan Project, information about it was kept secret— even (or especially) from university officials. After the success of the project had been demonstrated and information became available, university mucky-mucks were infuriated and demanded that the thing be removed from their campus.

So they dismantled Fermi’s reactor and relocated it out to the boonies— some woods beyond the outskirts of Chicago called the Argonne Forest— now known as Argonne National Laboratory.

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