Tag Archives: Nuclear Power

Jew of the Week: Hyman G. Rickover

Father of the Nuclear Navy

Chaim Gedaliah Rickover (1900-1986) was born in Poland. When he was six years old his family fled to the United States to escape the Russian pogroms that had killed over 3000 Jews in Eastern Europe. The family settled in Chicago, where Rickover started working at just nine years of age for three cents an hour. He excelled academically, and after graduating from high school with honours, was nominated by a Jewish congressman to the US Naval Academy. Rickover distinguished himself while serving on a destroyer ship and was among the youngest people to ever be promoted to an officer. He went back to school and earned a Master’s in electrical engineering before doing further studies at Columbia. At 29, he decided to serve on a submarine, and was soon in command of one. His translation of the German Das Unterseeboot became the textbook of the US Submarine Service. Throughout World War II, Rickover repaired electrical systems on US Navy ships, for which he earned the Legion of Merit. Following the war, he applied to join the Manhattan Project’s new program to develop nuclear power plants. He was soon the deputy manager of the division developing nuclear-powered navy ships. Rickover saw that the greatest potential was for nuclear submarines, and ultimately succeeded in persuading the Secretary of the Navy to endorse building one. Rickover led its development, and played a central role in designing a nuclear reactor fit for submarines. His vision came to life in 1954 with the launch of the famous USS Nautilus. It put him on the cover of TIME Magazine that year. By 1958, Rickover was vice admiral of the Navy, and awarded a Congressional Gold Medal. His program would go on to produce over 200 nuclear-powered submarines, and 23 aircraft carriers and cruisers. Incredibly, none of these has ever had a meltdown – a feat credited to Rickover’s insistence on safety and obsessive attention to detail. (The Soviet Navy suffered at least 14 meltdowns in the same time period!) Rickover became known as the “Father of the Nuclear Navy”. He was the longest serving officer in US naval history, with 63 years of service under 13 presidents. A four-star admiral, his 61 civilian awards included a Presidential Medal of Freedom and two Congressional Gold Medals (an extremely rare feat). He was also awarded 15 honourary degrees, and made an honourary Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Rickover stated that he was not proud of his work, and saw it as a “necessary evil” to protect his country. He once said he wished “nuclear power had never been discovered” and hoped that the nuclear fleet would be dismantled.

Words of the Week

Cherish criticism, for it will place you on the true heights.
– Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber of Lubavitch

Jew of the Week: Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein – Genius

The “father of modern physics”, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was born in Germany, lived in Italy, and received his higher education in Switzerland. In 1905, Einstein exploded onto the science scene with 4 revolutionary papers on the subjects of the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity, and mass/energy equivalence. By 1919 his research and theories were world-famous, with The Times reporting “Revolution in Science – New Theory of the Universe – Newtonian Ideas Overthrown”. He won the Nobel Prize two years later, for the photoelectric effect (not relativity!) In 1922, Einstein travelled the world, with a 12-day stop in Israel, during which he said “I consider this the greatest day of my life.” In 1933, he moved permanently to the US due to the Nazi rise to power. The Nazis raided his house, publicly burned his writings, and even put a bounty on his head worth $5000! Of them, he said, “I must confess that the degree of their brutality and cowardice came as something of a surprise.” Fearing the Nazis would develop an atomic bomb, Einstein penned a letter to President Roosevelt persuading him to start a nuclear weapon research program. Einstein would later call this the greatest mistake of his life – but a necessary one.

Einstein Predicts the Future...?

Einstein Predicts the Future…?

He spent the rest of his life researching, teaching and writing, based primarily at Princeton. He was a member of the NAACP and fought for civil rights in America. Becoming a vegetarian, Einstein believed mankind as a whole would benefit greatly by adopting such a diet. Three years before his death he was offered to be President of Israel, but was “saddened and ashamed” to decline, humbly admitting he would have no idea how to run a country. Einstein passed away while working on a speech for Israel’s 7th Independence Day. His brain was preserved to be studied, the rest of his body cremated and scattered. Receiving countless awards, Einstein would publish over 300 scientific works, and an additional 150 non-scientific ones. He revolutionized the fields of thermodynamics, light, quantum physics, energy, relativity, cosmology, statistics, motion and momentum, magnetization, refrigeration and a host of others. He was also a musician. So great is his legacy, that “Einstein” has become synonymous with “genius”.

Words of the Week

Einstein in 1947

Einstein in 1947

Gems from Albert Einstein:

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.