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Marshall Rosenbluth on: The Mike Test
Q: You said you went to see the '54 (Bravo) shot. Tell me about that.

MR: Well, that was the lithium deuteride shot, which -- well, to finish off what we were saying about Mike, I mean, I think people were sort of relieved to hear the experiment had worked, but were not really surprised. There was a pretty high level of confidence that we knew what would happen. So -- okay, well, the next stages was the lithium deuteride, the shrimp shot which -- where we did make one sort of -- well, one omission, there was one nuclear reaction which we didn't know about, which was the one neutron, one fast neutron hitting a lithium seven, releasing two more neutrons, which could then interact with the lithium six and make tritium, and so on. We knew about the lithium six captured neutrons, we didn't know about the so called N-2N reaction of lithium seven which greatly increased the power of the bomb. So, the yield was something like twice what we have calculated. So this was one case where the calculations weren't right though.

Q: How did you witness the shot? Do you remember that shot?

MR: Oh, yes. I had been out on the islands. Before the shot they packed us all onto different Navy boats. I was on a destroyer whose name I forget, and when shot time came we all had these very dark glasses on, and we had to face away from the shot, and after a minute you could turn around and still through these very thick goggles, I guess -- dark glasses is an understatement, you couldn't really see through them in the normal light -- and witnessed this, at that time still extremely bright, fireball in the distance. I think we were about thirty miles away, and it just kept rising and rising, and spreading, and the convoluting turbulence, and so on. It looked to me like what you might imagine a diseased brain, or a brain of some mad man would look like. You know, the surface, with the cortex convolutions, and so on. And it just kept getting bigger and bigger, and eventually got right overhead of us, and the air started getting filled with this gray stuff, which I guess was somewhat radioactive coral coming down, and I remember everybody was shooed, (they) tried to get everybody below decks, or in below the water line to cut down the radiation, but then the temperature got to be like a hundred and fifty, or something, and we didn't have air conditioning, so it was pretty brutal.

Q: Were you scared?

MR: No. I think I was more uncomfortable than scared, or kind of shocked by the power of the thing. We had radiation monitors, people who were monitoring the amount of radiation. It was high, but it didn't seem it was in the life threatening level. So, I don't recall being particularly physically afraid.

Q: How long did you have to stay below deck?

MR: Oh, a couple of hours, I guess.

Q: Did that shot make some lasting impression on you? Did it make you see things in a different light?

MR: Oh, I don't know. I mean, in that sense, it was certainly terrifying, wondering what would happen if these were really used. I guess I had already sort of pretty much gotten out of the weapons business by that point. After Stalin had died, and we had shown that we knew how to build an H-bomb, I felt -- it was much less clear to me that there was much point in trying to extend the lead a little bit or cut it back a little bit, and I had gotten interested in controlled fusion, which is really where I put most of my effort.

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