Technical question about the Nazi nuclear program

Saw the second episode of the excellent miniseries “The Saboteurs” last night. If you haven’t been watching, I highly recommend you do! :cool:

Can anybody explain this German design for a nuclear reactor to me? Are the dangling blocks graphite intended to slow down the reaction, the way control rods do in a modern reactor?

I first saw this design some years ago, and it seemed very primitive to me then (and still does now).

Found this video, which gives a partial explanation. The cubes were the uranium fuel, not the moderator.

Still seems very primitive to me, even if it was only 1940s technology.

I think it was an episode of PBS’s Secrets of the Dead that revealed the German scientists pretty much had it all wrong and were never really close to getting the bomb. They briefly discussed their attempts and design and what the flaw was, but it was a long time ago. I do, however, think I’ve got it on a DVR at another house.

If you are interested in searching that episode, it was called “Bugging Hitler’s …(something)”. It dealt with the audio monitoring of captured German soldiers in an English “prison” (more like big-ass mansion).

I saw that one. I’ll have to take another look at it, thanks.

If you haven’t been watching Saboteurs, BTW, Anna Friel is incredibly hot in period uniform and horn-rimmed glasses! :wink: :o

Bugging Hitler’s Scientists.

I wasn’t wildly impressed by the first episode when it aired in the UK last week, with the German side of things, and especially the chronology, seeming badly off, but I haven’t seen yet got round to watching the second episode.

As someone who’s never managed to make it to Haigerloch and its museum, that’s an interesting video. Yes, any dangling blocks are surely meant to be uranium. Indeed, surely one thing The Saboteurs gets explicitly right is that Heisenberg was ultimately going for heavy water as the moderator. That’s kind of the point of the Norwegian story.

Presumably a reference to the Farm Hall transcripts. There are printed editions of both the surviving UK copy (Operation Epsilon, IoP, 1993) and the US one (Jeremy Bernstein, Hitler’s Uranium Club, Springer-Verlag, 2001), with (essentially ultimately minor, but some of us take an interest) some differences between the two.

Actually it was titled Bugging Hitler’s Soldiers

Okay, I’m sold.

Not Buggering Hitler’s Soldiers?

It is a dramatization rather than a documentary, so up to now it’s been very good. I constantly watch for anachronisms in things like this, and there have been few things so far I would criticize. One thing that did leap out at me, however, was the way the bombers and gliders were marked with invasion stripes. Those weren’t applied to Allied aircraft until the hours before D-Day in 1944.

How on Earth could the Germans have controlled the rate of fission with the blocks dangling like that? Just give a tug on the cables to bring them closer together?

Goodness knows there are piles of such quibbles. As just one example, which passed me by, The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston (who’s very indirectly personally connected with the real story, but I’m 99% certain he doesn’t realise that) had a go at their choice of a London taxi. Though, hang on, that opening sequence does feature a shot of the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Bridge and, umm, Portcullis House, which was only opened in 2001. And it’d be how difficult to frame an iconic shot of the Palace of Westminster without including the 21st century office block over the road from it? That’s without complaining about the sore thumb obvious footage of Fifties nuclear tests padding out that entire credit sequence.

But what makes this a case where the anachronisms are especially questionable is that it’s all explicitly a remake/expansion of *Kampen om tungtvannet *, the 1948 Norwegian/French film where most of the participants were deliberately the original people involved. Filmed on the original locations, it’s all an astonishingly convincing account of what actually probably happened. And it’s all on YouTube.

Interesting. I’ll definitely check it out when I have the time.

I saw Heroes of Telemark (another dramatization!) when it first came out and remember it as being pretty good. (I was probably in fifth grade at the time, but I already knew my WWII history.)

I read the review with the remark about the taxi. For shots of London, you’d think they could use older footage, especially showing signs of the Blitz.

I was watching a documentary not too long ago about the Nazis. For some reason, every time the producers/directors wanted to emphasize how evil Hitler and his minions were, they’d zoom in on the Berlin TV tower with creepy music playing in the background.

The Berlin TV tower near the Alexanderplatz was built by the Communists in the 1960s! :smack:

And in Yanks, there were a lot of shots of Richard Gere wandering through the English countryside with huge nuclear plant cooling towers in the background. Evidently the director thought they were a charming part of a typical English landscape back in the '40s. :smack:


One of the heroes of the Norwegian Resistance’s raid on the Nazi heavy water plant has just died at age 99:


Not sure how much it matters any more, but since the OP seems to be more about the actual reactors than about the dramatized depiction of them, it’s a better fit for GQ.

“Pi ist drei!”

Don’t know if you are still around to read this, but…

I haven’t seen this particular movie, but there have been hyperboloid cooling towers in the UK since 1924, so the presence of cooling towers alone does not constitute an anachronism. The cooling towers in that film appear to have been Fiddlers Ferry (opened in 1973), but it was a coal-powered station, so wouldn’t be completely wrong for the era.

You are so mean.

No, if he had said that pi and e were both drei, then that would be mean. Well, approximately, at least.

I’m not sure I’ve seen as nerdy a joke before, even though the SDMB specialises in nerdy jokes.