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Project E was a joint project between the United States and the United Kingdom during the Cold War to provide nuclear weapons to the Royal Air Force (RAF) until sufficient British nuclear weapons became available. It was subsequently expanded to provide similar arrangements for the British Army of the Rhine. A maritime version of Project E known as Project N provided nuclear depth bombs used by the RAF Coastal Command.

The British nuclear weapons project, High Explosive Research, successfully tested a nuclear weapon in Operation Hurricane in October 1952, but production was slow and Britain had only ten atomic bombs on hand in 1955 and fourteen in 1956. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, approached the President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, with a request that the US supply nuclear weapons for the strategic bombers of the V bomber fleet until sufficient British weapons became available. This became known as Project E. Under an agreement reached in 1957, US personnel had custody of the weapons, and performed all tasks related to their storage, maintenance and readiness. The bombs were held in secure storage areas (SSAs) on the same bases as the bombers.

The first bombers equipped with Project E weapons were English Electric Canberras based in Germany and the UK that were assigned to NATO. These were replaced by Vickers Valiants in 1960 and 1961 as the long-range Avro Vulcan and Handley Page Victor assumed the strategic nuclear weapon delivery role. Project E weapons equipped V-bombers at three bases in the UK from 1958. Due to operational restrictions imposed by Project E, and the consequential loss of independence of half of the British nuclear deterrent, they were phased out in 1962 when sufficient British megaton weapons became available, but remained in use with the Valiants in the UK and RAF Germany until 1965.

Project E nuclear warheads were used on the sixty Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles operated by the RAF from 1959 to 1963 under Project Emily. The British Army acquired Project E warheads for its Corporal missiles in 1958. The US subsequently offered the Honest John missile as a replacement. They remained in service until 1977 when Honest John was superseded by the Lance missile. Eight-inch and 155 mm nuclear artillery rounds were also acquired under Project E. The last Project E weapons were withdrawn from service in 1992. (Full article...)

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Credit: James E. Westcott
A billboard encouraging secrecy amongst Oak Ridge workers

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John Archibald Wheeler (July 9, 1911 – April 13, 2008) was an American theoretical physicist. He was largely responsible for reviving interest in general relativity in the United States after World War II. Wheeler also worked with Niels Bohr in explaining the basic principles behind nuclear fission. Together with Gregory Breit, Wheeler developed the concept of the Breit–Wheeler process. He is best known for popularizing the term "black hole," as to objects with gravitational collapse already predicted during the early 20th century, for inventing the terms "quantum foam", "neutron moderator", "wormhole" and "it from bit", and for hypothesizing the "one-electron universe". Stephen Hawking referred to him as the "hero of the black hole story".

Wheeler earned his doctorate, age 21, at Johns Hopkins University under the supervision of Karl Herzfeld, and studied under Breit and Bohr on a National Research Council fellowship. During 1939 he collaborated with Bohr to write a series of papers using the liquid drop model to explain the mechanism of fission. During World War II, he worked with the Manhattan Project's Metallurgical Laboratory in Chicago, where he helped design nuclear reactors, and then at the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington, where he helped DuPont build them. He returned to Princeton after the war ended but returned to government service to help design and build the hydrogen bomb in the early 1950s, having been along with Edward Teller the main civilian proponent of thermonuclear weapons.

For most of his career, Wheeler was a professor of physics at Princeton University, which he joined in 1938, remaining there until 1976. At Princeton he supervised 46 PhD students, more than any other professor in the Princeton physics department.

Wheeler left Princeton University in 1976 at the age of 65. He was appointed as the director of the Center for Theoretical Physics at the University of Texas at Austin in 1976 and remained in the position until 1986, when he retired and became a professor emeritus. (Full article...)

Nuclear technology news

24 August 2023 – Discharge of radioactive water of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant
Japan begins the discharge of treated radioactive waste water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. (The Independent)
12 August 2023 – Russian invasion of Ukraine
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu inspects the Northern Fleet and visits a Rosatom nuclear weapons test site in Novaya Zemlya. (Reuters) (Hindustan Times) (The Barents Observer)
12 August 2023 – Fukushima nuclear disaster
South Koreans gather in central Seoul to protest against Japan's plan to release treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean. (Reuters)
1 August 2023 – Foreign relations of Burundi, Foreign relations of Russia
Burundi and Russia sign a memorandum of cooperation on sharing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes at the Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (World Nuclear News)

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