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How a truck driver devised specs for the atom bomb

This 1960s image released by the US Department of Defense shows the Little Boy atom bomb, the type detonated over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

(AP Photo/File)

That a man who worked as a trucker and made a 1,300-mile drive is perhaps unremarkable. But John Coster-Mullen, the destination, and the motivation for the head, there were uncommon. As NPR reports, Coster-Mullen in 1993 decided he could take advantage of the upcoming 50-year anniversary of the atom bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by making small replicas to sell.

But after the realization of the currently available versions had what he identified as deviations from the design, he decided to head to Los Alamos, NM, to the replicas in a museum.

He has never ended the sale of his models, but he has the pen of a 431-page book that NPR describes it as follows: “in principle, complete specs for America’s first nuclear weapons”; as David Samuels explained in a 2008 New Yorker profile, the US government has kept the specs under wraps.

To come on his own, Coster-Mullen very nearly devoured released photos (he insists none of the info he was leaked); interviewed engineers, scientists, and engineers; attended meetings of the soldiers that dropped the bombs; analysed bolts and screws; and much more.

Under the more: upon arrival in Los Alamos, he found the space of the museum, he wanted access closed for renovations; he eventually access and hours with his son, the measure of the bomb casing.

The result is the book atom bombs: The Secret Story of Little Boy and Fat Man, that Samuels wrote, is a “mind-numbing” but “strange, seductive … the accumulation of detail. … I felt that I could practically assemble a nuclear weapon myself.” And that is the point.

“It’s so easy,” Coster-Mullen, now 71, tells NPR. “The hard part is making nuclear fuel.” (The original AMERICAN nuclear tests actually messed up Kodak film.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: How a truck driver Devised Complete with a atomic bomb Specs

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