Ablaze: Story of Chernobyl by Piers Paul Read

By Piers Paul Read

On twenty sixth April 1986 the nuclear reactor of the fourth unit of the V.I. Lenin power-station at Chernobyl exploded. It was once a disaster of old proportions - many thousands suffered, and persevered to undergo, from the results. To chronicle this catastrophe and its aftermath, Piers Paul learn interviewed the engineers and operators who have been engaging in the fateful attempt at the evening of twenty fifth April; he talked to the director of the power-station, serving a ten-year sentence for negligence; and he went to the hitherto top-secret institutes as soon as run by means of Beria's Ministry for Medium computing device construction - the Kurchatov Institute, Moscow's medical institution No 6, and the once-closed urban of Obninsk. during this account, learn takes good thing about the declassification of nuclear info within the former Soviet Union and the loosening of tongues that the failure of the coup in 1991. He additionally received entry to the trial transcripts, the protocol of the hitherto mystery scientific fee, and different exclusive reviews. the result's not just the tale of the disaster, but additionally a parable approximately totalitarianism and its cave in.

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The research had been classified: the Americans were developing a nuclear bomb. He at once wrote a letter to Stalin similar in tone to that which Albert Einstein had written to Roosevelt in 1939. Flerov warned his leader of the theoretical potential for mass destruction inherent in an atomic weapon and urged him to seek the advice of the nation’s most distinguished physicists. Stalin heeded his warning, deciding that the Soviet Union too must develop a nuclear bomb. The scientist he chose to supervise the project was Igor Kurchatov, who in the 1930s, at the Leningrad Physical Technical Institute, had been the first Soviet physicist to achieve nuclear fission.

He was a wonderful raconteur, and because of his access to foreign books and journals, which he would sometimes lend to his colleagues at the Kurchatov, he had a breadth of culture far greater than that of the general product of the Soviet educational system. Legasov rose rapidly in the hierarchy of the Kurchatov Institute: from senior researcher to head of the lab, from head of the lab to head of the department. Loyal to the system in which he fervently believed, and with ambitions beyond the realm of science, he served for a period as the institute’s Communist party secretary.

In August he learned that the Americans had not only built an atomic bomb but were prepared to use it – obliterating the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and bringing the war in the Pacific to an end. An acute sense of urgency spurred on Kurchatov and his team. Whatever personal misgivings any may have had about Stalin or the Communist system, there was a real fear that the struggle against the Germans might be followed by a war with the Americans. The development of the bomb became the top priority of the Soviet state.

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