February 15, 2016 10:12 PM   Subscribe

That time Solzhenitsyn made a presentation to Timofeyev-Ressovsky on American atomic weapons, in the gulag.

The Smyth Report, originally titled ATOMIC BOMBS: “A General Account of the Development of Methods of Using Atomic Energy For Military Purposes Under the Auspices of the United States Government, 1940-1945" [PDF, various formats] was written so:
The ultimate responsibility for our nation's policy rests on its citizens and they can discharge such responsibilities wisely only if they are informed. The average citizen cannot be expected to understand clearly how an atomic bomb is constructed or how it works but there is in this country a substantial group of engineers and scientists who can understand such things and who can explain the potentialities of atomic bombs to their fellow citizens. The present report is written for this professional group and is a matter-of-fact, general account of work in the USA since 1939 aimed at the production of such bombs. It is neither a documented official history nor a technical treatise for experts. Secrecy requirements have affected both the detailed content and general emphasis so that many interesting developments have been omitted.
posted by the man of twists and turns (7 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
That's really interesting, in a few ways!
posted by freebird at 12:52 AM on February 16, 2016

It sounds like that prison in Bolivia where you have to buy your own cell.(Visiting Backpackers can buy cheap cocaine make free toll calls or use a Jacuzzi).
Back on topic; doesn't this show that Comrade Stalin turned the whole country into a gulag ?
Shades of India where 20% of it's industrial production is produced in Bombay slums.
posted by Narrative_Historian at 1:15 AM on February 16, 2016

Where are you seeing that 20% figure, Narrative_Historian? That seems rather crazy to me.
posted by peacheater at 2:59 AM on February 16, 2016

What are the odds of all of this having happened? The Smyth Report itself was pretty improbable. The Soviets deciding to publish it themselves strikes me as unpredictable. That Solzhenitsyn would run across it in a camp seems entirely fortuitous. And finally, that Solzhenitsyn would be the one who would end up explaining it to Timofeyev-Ressovsky, an expert on the radiation effects, seems like a coincidence that a writer would abhor — it’s just too unlikely.

possibly the most eponysterical FPP you've posted, man of twists and turns
posted by Greg Nog at 6:28 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Or is it?!?!?
posted by maryr at 8:41 AM on February 16, 2016

I learned about the Smyth Report as a young sf fan; John W. Campbell, Jr., was fascinated by the topic of nuclear energy (and in fact published a story in March 1944 which talked about making an atomic bomb from U-235 and brought visitors from the FBI) and ran excerpts from the report in Astounding. You can read about some of this stuff (and see some great images) here.
posted by languagehat at 8:56 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Love that blog.
A fascinating aspect to Campbell would be his Who Goes There (1948). A remote Antartic base were an Alien attempts to transmute humans and then build an atomic powered craft to infect the world. The first thing to go is the radio; in the adapations the radio operators are always named "Tex, Sparks or Windows", the "mis e saunce" of isolation and fear.
Then, scientists, with basic equipment, unleash something (they) cannot understand thus they are all destroyed. The 1951 film adaptation is pure post war/ Cold War: military vs the scientist vs. what was dug up and how to deal with it, in a cold remote place, then something about nuclear power/Bombs being ancillary to the alien mutation that society will become if it can assume any form. (a young James Arness for example)
posted by clavdivs at 8:28 PM on February 16, 2016

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