Louis Alexander Slotin was a Canadian physicist and chemist who took part in the Manhattan Project. He was the victim of the second criticality accident in history, following the death of Harry Daghlian, who had been exposed to radiation by the same core that killed Slotin. He died of a heart attack at the age of 48.
About Louis Slotin in brief
Louis Alexander Slotin was a Canadian physicist and chemist who took part in the Manhattan Project. He was the victim of the second criticality accident in history, following the death of Harry Daghlian, who had been exposed to radiation by the same core that killed Slotin. After World War II, Slotin continued his research at Los Alamos National Laboratory. On 21 May 1946, he accidentally began a fission reaction, which released a burst of hard radiation. The accident and its aftermath have been dramatized in several fictional and non-fiction accounts. His expertise on the subject of radiobiology garnered the attention of the U.S. government and as a result he was invited to join the United States’ nuclear effort to develop a bomb. Slotin also contributed to several papers in the field of radiobiobiology. He died of a heart attack at the age of 48. He is buried in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he was born and grew up in the North End neighborhood of Winnipeg. His parents were Yiddish-speaking Jewish refugees who had fled the pogroms of Russia to Winnipeg. He earned both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the University of Manitoba. He also earned a Ph. D. degree in physical chemistry from King’s College London. He worked as a special investigator for Dublin’s Great Southern Railways, testing the Drumm nickel-zinc rechargeable batteries used on the Dublin–Bray line. He later gave the impression that he had fought for the Spanish Republic and trained to fly a fighter with the Royal Air Force.
His younger brother, Sam, later remarked that his brother had an extreme intensity that enabled him to study long hours. He volunteered for service in the Spanish Civil War, more for the sake of the thrill of it than on political grounds. He had often been in extreme danger as an anti-aircraft gunner. During this time, he worked with Earl Evans to produce carbon-11ocarbon from two plant cells at Enrico Fermi’s Enrici’s Pile-1 reactor, the first nuclear reactor, on December 2, 1942. The job paid poorly and Slotin’s father had to support him for two years. In 1937, after he unsuccessfully applied for a job with Canada’s National Research Council, the Universityof Chicago accepted him as a research associate. There, he gained his first experience with nuclear chemistry, helping to build the first cyclotron in the midwestern United States. He won a prize for his thesis entitled “An Investigation into the Intermediate Formation of Unstable Molecules During some Chemical Reactions” in 1936. In 1939, he collaborated with the head of the university’s biochemistry department, to demonstrate that carbon dioxide cells had the capacity to use carbon dioxide for carbon fixation. He went on to earn a B. Sc. degree in geology from the university in 1932. In 1933, he obtained a M.Sc. degree in 1933. In 1936, he won a fellowship to study at King’s college London under the supervision of Arthur John Allmand.
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