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Hydrogen Bomb Physicist to Feds: Disclosures in My Book Leaked Long Ago

By    |   Wednesday, 25 Mar 2015 07:21 AM

A new memoir by hydrogen bomb physicist Kenneth W. Ford has caught the eye of the Department of Energy, which worries it may disclose some of the nation's nuclear secrets.

The New York Times reported this week that while some of the nuclear information contained in his 10th book, "Building the H Bomb: A Personal History," may technically be under wraps, it leaked into the public arena long ago.

That doesn't mean that people like Michael Kolbay, a classification officer at the agency, don't worry that the book might aid countries, terrorists, or other foreign entities in their nuclear aspirations. Last year, after reading early drafts of the book, Kolbay said in an email to Ford that his descriptions of the "design nuances of a successful thermonuclear weapons program" could "encourage emerging proliferant programs."

Ford, 88, said he took pains to make sure he was not disclosing anything new about the hydrogen bomb or its development.

"[I]n preparing his book, Dr. Ford deeply mined [the] shadowy world of public information," wrote The Times. "For instance, the federal agency wanted him to strike a reference to the size of the first hydrogen test device — its base was seven feet wide and 20 feet high. Dr. Ford responded that public photographs of the device, with men, jeeps, and a forklift nearby, gave a scale of comparison that clearly revealed its overall dimensions."

In total, the agency ordered Ford to make 60 cuts that ranged from single sentences to many paragraphs. Of particular concern was the book's lucid descriptions of thermal equilibrium, the discovery that hydrogen fuel and radiation could maintain equal temperatures during a detonation.

The discovery has been publicly known for years, however, but Ford agreed to some adjustments suggested by the agency.

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A new memoir by hydrogen bomb physicist Kenneth W. Ford has caught the eye of the Department of Energy, which worries it may disclose some of the nation's nuclear secrets.
hydrogen, bomb, physicist, book, nuclear, secrets
292
2015-21-25
Wednesday, 25 Mar 2015 07:21 AM
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