Criticality accident

Louis Slotin, a Canadian physicist working on the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, became the second person in history to die in a nuclear criticality event, eight months after Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. became the first. Slotin was performing an experiment which attempted to begin the first stages of a nuclear reaction by enclosing a plutonium-gallium alloy bomb-core in a beryllium sphere. Slotin, who was not following proper safety protocol at the time, dropped the sphere and caused a “prompt critical” reaction that exposed him to a lethal dose of ionizing radiation. He died nine days later after suffering what doctors described as an “agonizing sequence of radiation-induced traumas”. The bomb-core that had been used during the accident was actually the same core that had killed Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. eight months prior, which was consequently nicknamed “The Demon Core” by the rest of the Manhattan Project staff.

Submission by Logan Agle. Thank you.

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