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Friday, August 7, 2015

Spellbinders talk August 7

I've been invited to talk at a local library to a large group of SPELLBINDERS today  - Spellbinders are those who volunteer to read and tell stories to kids.

I was asked to talk about my Pocket Museums, how I use them to tell science stories,  and how I became an EveryDay Hero on Channel 7.

Think it'll be ok - I'm quite looking forward to it.

I'll start by sharing some cottonwood stars, telling everyone my Wounded Knee story, and then shift into pocket museums.
I'm taking several with me to show.






Wonder how it will go?











This is the story I told:

    
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Make a POCKET MUSEUM –
and save it…
FOREVER!

I did………J



How it started for me…..

Me, Grandma Paull, Mum, Dad, and my two brothers, Jimmie and Charles, lived near the sea. Our small council house in Gwavas Estate overlooked Newlyn harbour, Lariggan Beach, and the beautiful Mounts Bay.

Family walks, either to the country lanes or down the steep hill to the nearby seaside, in the spring, summer, and autumn, were the highlight of my childhood. Sometimes, after the Sunday meat and potato pasty dinner, washed down with a cup of hot, steaming tea, Mum would put a snack in her big bag and the family would put on its wellies and head for Lariggan Beach. 

If the tide was out, we’d first look to see what had been washed up on the beach, then stare into the rock pools, hoping to see a tiny red and blue crab scuttling under the dark brown weed. Then, we’d collect some smooth pebbles.
We’d look for those shaped like a heart, or, even better, those with a vein of milky-white quartz running through them.
They were special.
Mum said they were special because they were wishing rocks
Finding a wishing rock made me feel good.  I’d pick it up, hold it in my hand, and slowly wrap my fingers around it.

When the pebble felt warm, I closed my eyes and thought about someone very dear to me…………and then send that person a very special wish.
Then, slowly, with a smile, I uncurled my fingers, knowing that a special person, somewhere, suddenly felt a warm shiver down the spine, just as he or she got my loving thoughts. 

Of course, I always sent my very best wishes to my mum and to my dad.  J
As we walked around the beach, we gave Mum the best wishing rocks we found and she put them in a tin in her big bag.

Later, when we were home tucking into bread and treacle sandwiches, Mum put the very, very best wishing rocks in a old, cracked green glass jar that stood on the mantle piece. The others were taken back to the beach the next time we went  for an afternoon walk.

I kept the first wishing rock I ever found in a small oxo tin. Each day I took it out, rubbed it, squeezed it, and sent really big wishes.

The years went by and opportunities and challenges came my way, I have wished and wished and wished – always clutching my favorite wishing rock from lariggan Beach.

When I look back over my life, I know that sometimes the wishing rock really works…………….



On the day of my fifth birthday, Monday, July 14, a week before we broke up for the summer holiday, I was really surprised when my Dad, not my Grandma, met me at the end of the school day. Dad had never picked me up from school before.

He was in his driver’s uniform so I knew he’d come straight from work. My stomach turned over – was something wrong?
Was Grandma ill?
Standing by the iron fence, Dad smiled when he saw some of the kids rush out of the school yard, up to the street corner, and turn and slide down back towards school, skidding on the cobble road, sending up a stream of yellow sparks from their hob-nailed boots. He took my hand and we walked together in the afternoon sun towards the harbor.

Dad said we were going hunting for pebbles on Lariggan Beach.

Just my Dad and me. Pebbling. On Lariggan Beach. After school. On my birthday. Could it get any better than that? I felt so special, and knew in my bones that something magical was about to happen. It was, after all, my 5th birthday treat.

And what a memorable lifetime treat it turned out to be.

We walked hand in hand on the cobbled street to The Fradgan, past Uncle Steve and Aunty Flo Green’s white cottage, past the tall icehouse towering over the small inner harbor, and crossed over to the open fish market. We reached the small stone bridge by the Fisherman’s Institute at the end of Newlyn pier, where the Coombe River runs into the sea. We leaned over and saw the swans and the seagulls dipping their heads into the refreshing, bubbling blend of fresh and salt water. Grabbing Dad’s hand again, we walked around the corner by the Austin and Morris Garage onto the seafront, then down the six smooth, worn, granite steps, onto the beach.

The sky was bright blue, and the sun a shimmering yellow. St. Michael’s Mount, way off in the distance, looked very majestic, its fairy-tale castle catching the late afternoon sun setting behind the Mousehole granite cliffs. The tide was out and the smooth, black and grey and white pebbles were wet and shiny. As the greeny-blue water lapped back and forth, herring gulls squawked and squabbled as they looked for food scraps. As we stepped over the pebbles, avoiding the slimy brown and yellow strips of seaweed. Dad reached in his pocket and brought out two of his OLD HOLBORN tobacco tins.

 “Here,” he said, giving me one, “take this treasure tin and fill it. Just wishing rocks, mind you.” With a broad smile and a knowing twinkle in his eye, he said, “Bet I fill mine first.” [1]
The competition was on. We walked along the seashore, stepping over the brown sticky seaweed, and we looked and we touched and we talked and we collected. The beach pebbles were so endearing, small, round, smooth, and warmed by the afternoon sun.
Soon my tin was full of wishing rocks and heart-shaped pebbles that I wanted to take home to show Mum and my brother. I so wanted to tell them I filled my tin before Dad filled his.

Just as we were leaving, I spotted something different. There, lying with all the other pebbles was a bright yellow object. It didn’t look like any of the other pebbles. It was so different, more like a small slice of pineapple.


Whatever was it? It stared up at me, wanting, I felt, badly to be picked up, wanting to be touched and admired. By me! And that’s what I did. I bent over, touched it, picked it up, and held it in the palm of my hand. It was lighter than a pebble. It was a magical moment. Wide-eyed, I showed my Dad. Because I knew he knew everything, I asked:
What’s this, Dad?”  He looked down at it, smiled, and then, half-closing his eyes, frowned. Dad had no idea what I’d found. “Dunno. Never seen that before. Good, though, in’t it?”

I thought that was really funny, because I knew he had seen everything there was to see. I couldn’t believe that Dad had never ever seen anything like the yellow stone before – and he’d been to the beach over a thousand times in his life. But Dad did know it was different, and, therefore, very, very special. “Take it home, “ he said,  “and show your ma. She’ll know.”

I stared at my orangey-yellow, rock-like, magical find. It looked soft. Not wanting to scratch it, I wrapped it up in my white hanky and put it in the other pocket – it didn’t seem right to put such a special rock in the OLD HOLBORN tin with the other pebbles I’d found.

Dad took my hand and we made our way back up Chywoone Hill. As I walked up the very steep hill, I kept feeling the Old Holborn tin in one pocket, and checking the lumpy hanky in the other. I KNEW I’d found something very special. I KNEW it was lying on the beach waiting for me to come along and find it. It was something that I KNEW belonged just to me – and would, forever. I KNEW it was a special day. I was excited! My discovery made my head glow.

When we reached 17, Trevarveneth Crescent, I skipped up the back garden path, past the three gooseberry bushes (one for Jimmie, one for Charles, and one for me), pushed opened the glass door, and ran straight into the kitchen. Mum and Grandma were standing by the white enameled cooker, waiting for the kettle to boil. Charles was sleeping in Mum’s arms. Jimmie was tucking into a jam sandwich. Beside myself with excitement, I shouted, “Mum, Mum, Grandma, Jicky, I beat Dad. Filled my tin first. See what I found. It’s brilliant.”

I took out my OLD HOLBORN tin and showed them what I’d collected on the beach. ‘And look at this,” I said, as I unwrapped my hanky. I knew then by the look on Jimmie’s, Mum’s and Grandma’s faces that the yellow rock I had found was special. And I found it on my birthday, too.
“Where’d you find THAT? Dad, where’d he find that? Did you give it to him?” Jimmie asked. Dad shook hid head. “’E found it.”
What a birthday surprise.” said Grandma. Mum looked at it again, sitting in the palm of my hand. “THAT beautiful yellow rock was waiting for you, Johnny,” she said, “just for you. It’s a treasure. A real treasure. Put it in one of your OXO treasure tins, Johnny, and keep it there, forever. Forever. You hear me? Forever and a day.” I squeezed my treasure tightly in my hand and took it into the kitchen. I had never held such treasure before. I turned on the hot water tap and washed off the grainy sand with hand soap, dried my special rock with newspaper, stroked it, and looked at it again.

I put it on the dinner table, next to my birthday tea treats - the big blue and white plate of bread splits, a jar of jam, Cornish cream, treacle, and yellow saffron buns.  “What is that, Dad?” asked my brother, Jimmie, again, looking at Mum and Dad. Jimmie picked it up and stroked the yellow pebble. Mum and Dad shook their heads and said they didn’t know, but, as Mum explained, the yellow discovery was something very, very special. Beside himself with curiosity, Jimmie exclaimed,  “T’ain’t heavy. Ain’t a pebble, is it, Mum? I ain’t never found one like that.” “Don’t say ‘ain’t’, Jimmie, please.” Mum said. “Don’t worry. You’ll find one next time we go pebbling. Just have to keep looking.”

Dad’s story, when we settled down after my birthday tea, was about his Dad working in the tin mine in St. Just, digging in tunnels deep down under the blue sea. “Bet he never found a yellow rock like yours, Johnny,” he said. “Found good stuff, though.”
When I went upstairs to bed, I put the treasure into an OXO tin, slipped it under my pillow, curled my fingers around it, and, slept with a smile on my face. I fell asleep. What a birthday it had been.

As I dressed in the morning, I put the small OXO tin inside my left-hand trouser pocket, next to my favorite small seashell, to take to school to show my teacher, Miss Harvey.
Dad reminded me as I went out the door with Grandma. “Got your yellow rock for your teacher, Johnny? Don’t forget it. You know what your ma said. Got your dinner, them OXO cubes, too?”

I couldn’t wait to get to school to show Miss Harvey. Even before all the boys sat in their seats, I was standing by her tall desk, the OXO treasure tin in my hand, spluttering, “Miss Harvey, Miss Harvey, see what I found! I found it on the beach, after school, yesterday. You know, next to the harbor wall. I found it on Lariggan. Went there with my dad. You know, when the tide was out, when you can see what the tide brought in.” 
Every word came out in a rush.

As Miss Harvey looked inside my scratched OXO tin, her eyes widened! It wasn’t, apparently a rock at all. It was ancient fossilized tree resin, and, she said, it was called amber. Miss Harvey knew that amber was millions of years old and came from the inside of trees.

Resin? Fossilized? Amber? Ancient? What beautiful words, I thought. I rolled the words around in my head. Resin. Fossilized. Amber, amber.
Miss Harvey held my beautiful amber in her hand, smiled, looked down at me through her glasses that balanced on the end of her sharp nose, and said loudly, so everyone in class could hear, that it had come from a far-off country. It had probably been washed ashore after a long, long trip in the sea. “And Johnny Paull was lucky enough to find it.”
Miss Harvey held my golden amber in her hand, smiled, looked down at me through her wire glasses that balanced on the end of her sharp nose, and said loudly, so everyone in class could hear, “THIS is amber…..it’s fossil tree sap………it’s been washed ashore after a long, long trip in the sea. Johnny Paull found it.” Miss Harvey handed the amber back to me and then wrote the word A M B E R on the board. “Show it to everyone, pass it around.” Miss Harvey said. “Share it – that’s what scientists do. And, Johnny Paull, you’re a real scientist!”

What’s a scientist, I wondered? Is that something dead good? I turned a little red as I faced everyone in the room. As I held out my hand and showed the class, everyone stopped chattering. They were curious and wanted to see what I had found. I handed it to Johnny Hoskins. Almost immediately, Edgar James hissed, “Pass it ‘ere, boyo. Quick. Lemme see!”

“Quiet, everyone, quiet!” Miss Harvey said, turning to me, “Johnny Paull, why don’t you draw a picture of your amber? Here, here’s some white paper. Use this. Don’t just draw the amber, draw the other beach pebbles, too. Just as you remember. Can you see them in your head?”

Closing my eyes, I remembered just how the amber looked when I saw it lying on the beach with all the other pebbles. I couldn’t wait to grab some yellow, black and brown crayons from the big biscuit tin lying on her desk.

My head glowed. It was on fire. I was a scientist – whatever that meant! That was it. I was hooked. I’ve been a scientist - and a treasure tin collector - ever since, thanks to my mum and dad and my teacher.

As I was drawing another picture of one of my wishing rocks, Miss Harvey came next to me and, with a broad smile, said, very emphatically so that everyone could hear, ”Keep it, Johnny Paull. The amber. And that wishing rock! They’re wonderful. Keep them. Keep the amber. Keep it in your oxo tin, your treasure tin, and save it. Save it forever. And, you, Johnny Hoskins, go and find your own. Go and find your own amber on the beach, the next time you’re there.”

When playtime came, everyone wanted to see and touch the beautiful, yellow amber. Roger Symons said loudly, and with a note of frustration, he’d been down to Lariggan a million times. “Ain’t never found anything like that. Let me touch it, go on, let me touch it. Wish I found it.”
I told him, and Johnny Hoskins, in a secretive whisper, that I was going to save the amber forever, safely, in a treasure tin, just as Miss Harvey told me. “Wassat?” asked Johnny. “Wos a treshure tin?”
“Come over ‘ere,” I said, “I’ll show you.”

In September, when school reopened after the summer holidays, I took my amber to school and, standing in front of the class, told Miss Harvey that I hadn’t lost it. Johnny Hoskins put up his hand and told Miss Harvey that he hadn’t found any amber. “And I’ve searched the beach a million times. Sure you found that amber thingy down there?” he asked.

He turned to the class.  “Johnny Paull’s dead lucky.”

Yep, I was…..and am to this day.

For well over 60 years, from my very special 5th birthday day, the smooth, yellow treasure, my amber, and my wishing rock, reside in the OXO tin.
They’re a big part of my life. Sometimes, the precious, magical OXO tin is in my right-hand trouser pocket, sometimes in the left.

I touch it a million times a day – just to make sure that it’s still there, just to make me feel good.

I touch it and I remind myself of that magical birthday all those years ago.

Many years later, when teaching 5th graders, we were sharing their treasure tins at the start of another day.

The treasure box was renamed a pocket museum by Michael, one of my students when he said to me,

 “Like a museum, ain’t it? Dad says mine was a pocket museum.”[2]

“Can we call ‘em pocket museums, Mr. Paull?”

I asked the class what they thought to the idea.
Everyone agreed that it was a great idea.

It was...........:)

                    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………


    



































[1] I have that tin to this day. I’ve had it for 65 years. It’s in the cabinet in my study.
[2] Extract from Through My Eyes.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

See what I found tucked away my document storage!



From a Teacher’s Diary – September 1967

Come into the Garden, Maude…………….

   Drawing by Antonia Bottinelli             Age 9   (Used with Antonia’s permission )


(Note: I left my classroom teaching position in the summer of 1967 to work as science advisor to the 365 public elementary schools in the Leicestershire Education Authority. My role focused on promoting, encouraging and supporting teachers’ classroom science. This journal entry was made in the early summer of 1967, at the end of an environmental education workshop with forty teachers.)


September 1967 - At the end of one of my pond-dipping workshops at Foxton Field Study Centre, we put our microscopes and white dishes to one side and talked about what we had discovered throughout the day. The conversation soon shifted to what was and what wasn’t going on in their classrooms Some, I knew, were comfortable teaching science, some weren’t.

One teacher, sitting at the back of the room, told me and the class what happened when she asked her 7 year olds to draw a garden worm. A little girl, with wide questioning eyes, put up her hand and said: "I've never seen a worm. How big are they? Are they like snakes?”  

The other teachers smiled – and I was reminded of the story I heard somewhere of the young boy who was flabbergasted when he saw a cow being milked on his first-ever visit to the farm. His only experience with milk was in bottles delivered on his doorstep by the milkman each morning.

This isn't so surprising, is it, when you think about it? If you live in a high-rise apartment building you don't have many encounters with worms or cows. But so what? Would it matter if our children grew up not knowing about cows and worms? What relevance have the lives and activities of cows and worms to the urban child who lives in a concrete environment? And, taking this further, does it matter that adults view many small creatures with distaste and pass on their prejudices to their children? After all, isn’t it true that smoldering beneath the surface of many of us are hostile attitudes to nature. Which one of us hasn't trapped and killed a mouse, stepped on a snail, crushed a spider, or swatted a fly?

Well, I think it does matter. Isn't it important that all children have an opportunity to experience the natural world first-hand and to learn about familiar living things that share the world with us? As teachers, shouldn't we provide the children in our care with the opportunity to discover the natural world for themselves, to learn to enjoy it and to appreciate our dependence upon it? Won't that subsequently encourage them to care for it?

For many teachers of young children, nature  (creepy crawlies, birds, rocks, fossils, for example) is an invaluable aid for educational purposes, an inspiration for discussion, science, language, art, music, and writing. They know that outside the door is a huge outdoor classroom, a place to learn about and to learn in. It needn't be a dense woodland, rich meadow, pond or clear mountain stream (they help, though!). A schoolyard, however sterile, is home to a myriad of interesting small animals. Turn over a brick and you find woodlice, slugs and snails. Standing in silky webs are spiders, hiding under dead leaves are earwigs, centipedes and millipedes. Lurking inside cracks in the wall are tiny beetles. Small animals have big life histories and are easy to keep for short periods of time. A friend of mine, a professional biologist, kept a small colony of woodlice in a tobacco tin for a few days, dropping in the occasional damp dead leaf for food. Not, of course, by any stretch of the imagination,  a recommended way of keeping small creatures, but it does show what is possible.

If we create appropriate classroom homes for small creatures, think of what our children could learn from observing creepy crawlies at close range. Woodlice, for example, would be ideal creatures to keep in the classroom. They’re easy to find and they’re so interesting!  Female woodlice mature when they are about two years old and rear their young in a brood pouch under their bodies. When the offspring are ready to emerge, the female stands still, and stretches her front legs out stiffly so that the young can crawl down to the ground. And snails! What wonderful creatures they are, and so easy to keep for a few days. As are spiders, and worms, and millipedes and slugs………………………….



If children are encouraged to find, watch, and understand how small creatures live, won't it help them learn to live in harmony with nature and appreciate living things? And, important for us teachers, doesn't a worm or a spider give us so many ways of developing classroom skills?

Try it and watch how it impacts the children!  And your classroom!!   

John Paull  1967        

Saturday, July 25, 2015

'I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.’ Albert Einstein

'I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.’ Albert Einstein .............of course!! :) Thank you, Albert!



Having had a very early breakfast and done an hour or so feeding the birds, saying hello to the magpies, jays, squirrels, deer and rabbits, stroking Molly the neighbor's cat, chatting with Bertie and Fiona, picking weeds and watering the thirsty potted plants on both decks,  I'm sitting on the deck with my well-earned second round of tea (fourth cup, actually).................and I'm looking in awe at the view of the open countryside and the nearby trees, listening to the birds and staring at the beautiful blue sky.

Then, the thought occurred: hey, put your curiosity questions on your blog!! Why not?

So, here goes, here's what's in my mind this morning:


  • A small house finch is hopping around on the deck, checking out what's there. S/he ignores the water in the bowl and isn't interested in the sunflower seed. My, it really has the sharpest beak! Ooops, it's gone - nothing appealed to it. What was it looking for?
  • Meanwhile, there's another little red chested guy way up on top of the olive tree, looking down at me and talking its head off. Whatever is it saying? Is it talking to me? Oooh, it's just been joined by the most beautiful yellow chested bird...............they're staring at each other, but not uttering a sound. Are they friends? Sure hope so.
  • The morning glory flowers are so beautiful - deep purple with five black stripes - what a contrast to the dominant, very tall, bright yellow sunflowers. They're all facing the rising sun and swaying gently in the breeze. Why are the sunflowers so tall? They sure need more water each day than I drink!
  • Oooh, there's a kestrel hovering above, looking for its brekkie! (Seeing a kestrel always reminds me of my dad........his favorite bird). Wow! There it goes, swooping down. Wonder what it saw? My, oh, my. They have incredible eye sight!! I wonder how far they can see? Do they have good hearing, too? I wonder what their preferred breakfast is? A vole? Snake?
  • Wish I could hover like a hawk!! Whatever do they think about?
  • All the beautiful, towering olive trees........they've been here such a long time and, no doubt, seen a lot.........I wonder what they think of what they see, feel and hear today? They don't seem to mind the heat and I never water them. Should I?
  • Well, our new fence is up and looking good. I've transplanted some climbers - hope they'll take. If so, we should get some dead good spiders living there pretty soon! Wonder what species we'll get?











Saturday, July 4, 2015

An interesting BBC article on the A Bomb.....

Given my long time friendship with David Hawkins and, through him, with Philip Morrison, both of whom were part of the atomic bomb project in Los Alamos during the second world war, I was intrigued to read this article in the BBC magazine today.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-33365776
Was H.G.Wells the first one to think of the atomic bomb?

The atom bomb was one of the defining inventions of the 20th Century. So how did science fiction writer HG Wells predict its invention three decades before the first detonations, asks Samira Ahmed.
Imagine you're the greatest fantasy writer of your age. One day you dream up the idea of a bomb of infinite power. You call it the "atomic bomb".
HG Wells first imagined a uranium-based hand grenade that "would continue to explode indefinitely" in his 1914 novel The World Set Free.
He even thought it would be dropped from planes. What he couldn't predict was how a strange conjunction of his friends and acquaintances - notably Winston Churchill, who'd read all Wells's novels twice, and the physicist Leo Szilard - would turn the idea from fantasy to reality, leaving them deeply tormented by the scale of destructive power that it unleashed.
The story of the atom bomb starts in the Edwardian age, when scientists such as Ernest Rutherford were grappling with a new way of conceiving the physical world.
The idea was that solid elements might be made up of tiny particles in atoms. "When it became apparent that the Rutherford atom had a dense nucleus, there was a sense that it was like a coiled spring," says Andrew Nahum, curator of the Science Museum's Churchill's Scientists exhibition.


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HG Wells in 1944

Wells was fascinated with the new discoveries. He had a track record of predicting technological innovations. Winston Churchill credited Wells for coming up with the idea of using aeroplanes and tanks in combat ahead of World War One.
The two men met and discussed ideas over the decades, especially as Churchill, a highly popular writer himself, spent the interwar years out of political power, contemplating the rising instability of Europe.
Churchill grasped the danger of technology running ahead of human maturity, penning a 1924 article in the Pall Mall Gazette called "Shall we all commit suicide?". In the article, Churchill wrote: "Might a bomb no bigger than an orange be found to possess a secret power to destroy a whole block of buildings - nay to concentrate the force of a thousand tons of cordite and blast a township at a stroke?"
This idea of the orange-sized bomb is credited by Graham Farmelo, author of Churchill's Bomb, directly to the imagery of The World Set Free.
By 1932 British scientists had succeeded in splitting the atom for the first time by artificial means, although some believed it couldn't produce huge amounts of energy.
But the same year the Hungarian emigre physicist Leo Szilard read The World Set Free. Szilard believed that the splitting of the atom could produce vast energy. He later wrote that Wells showed him "what the liberation of atomic energy on a large scale would mean".
Szilard suddenly came up with the answer in September 1933 - the chain reaction - while watching the traffic lights turn green in Russell Square in London. He wrote: "It suddenly occurred to me that if we could find an element which is split by neutrons and which would emit two neutrons when it absorbed one neutron, such an element, if assembled in sufficiently large mass, could sustain a nuclear chain reaction."


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Illustration of the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction

In that eureka moment, Szilard also felt great fear - of how a bustling city like London and all its inhabitants could be destroyed in an instant as he reflected in his memoir published in 1968: "Knowing what it would mean - and I knew because I had read HG Wells - I did not want this patent to become public."
The Nazis were on the rise and Szilard was deeply anxious about who else might be working on the chain reaction theory and an atomic Bomb. Wells's novel Things To Come, turned into a 1936 film, The Shape of Things to Come, accurately predicted aerial bombardment and an imminent devastating world war.
In 1939 Szilard drafted the letter Albert Einstein sent to President Roosevelt warning America that Germany was stockpiling uranium. The Manhattan Project was born.



Szilard and several British scientists worked on it with the US military's massive financial backing. Britons and Americans worked alongside each other in "silos" - each team unaware of how their work fitted together. They ended up moving on from the original enriched uranium "gun" method, which had been conceived in Britain, to create a plutonium implosion weapon instead.
Szilard campaigned for a demonstration bomb test in front of the Japanese ambassador to give them a chance to surrender. He was horrified that it was instead dropped on a city.
In 1945 Churchill was beaten in the general election and in another shock, the US government passed the 1946 McMahon Act, shutting Britain out of access to the atomic technology it had helped create. William Penney, one of the returning Los Alamos physicists, led the team charged by Prime Minister Clement Atlee with somehow putting together their individual pieces of the puzzle to create a British bomb on a fraction of the American budget.


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Leo Szilard

"It was a huge intellectual feat," Andrew Nahum observes. "Essentially they reworked the calculations that they'd been doing in Los Alamos. They had the services of Klaus Fuchs, who [later] turned out to be an atom spy passing information to the Soviet Union, but he also had a phenomenal memory."
Another British physicist, Patrick Blackett, who discussed the Bomb after the war with a German scientist in captivity, observed that there were no real secrets. According to Nahum he said: "It's a bit like making an omelette. Not everyone can make a good one."
When Churchill was re-elected in 1951 he "found an almost complete weapon ready to test and was puzzled and fascinated by how Atlee had buried the costs in the budget", says Nahum. "He was very conflicted about whether to go ahead with the test and wrote about whether we should have 'the art and not the article'. Meaning should it be enough to have the capability… [rather] than to have a dangerous weapon in the armoury."
Churchill was convinced to go ahead with the test, but the much more powerful hydrogen bomb developed three years later worried him greatly.
HG Wells died in 1946. He had been working on a film sequel to The Shape of Things To Come that was to include his concerns about the now-realised atomic bomb he'd first imagined. But it was never made.
Towards the end of his life, says Nahum, Wells's friendship with Churchill "cooled a little".
"Wells considered Churchill as an enlightened but tarnished member of the ruling classes." And Churchill had little time for Wells's increasingly fanciful socialist utopian ideas.
Wells believed technocrats and scientists would ultimately run a peaceful new world order like in The Shape of Things To Come, even if global war destroyed the world as we knew it first. Churchill, a former soldier, believed in the lessons of history and saw diplomacy as the only way to keep mankind from self-destruction in the atomic age.
Wells's scientist acquaintance Leo Szilard stayed in America and campaigned for civilian control of atomic energy, equally pessimistic about Wells's idea of a bold new scientist-led world order. If anything Szilard was tormented by the power he had helped unleash. In 1950, he predicted a cobalt bomb that would destroy all life on the planet.


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Protest at Aldermaston

In Britain, the legacy of the Bomb was a remarkable period of elite scientific innovation as the many scientists who had worked on weaponry or radar returned to their civilian labs. They gave us the first commercial jet airliner, the Comet, near-supersonic aircraft and rockets, highly engineered computers, and the Jodrell Bank giant moveable radio telescope.
The latter had nearly ended the career of its champion, physicist Bernard Lovell, with its huge costs, until the 1957 launch of Sputnik, when it emerged that Jodrell Bank had the only device in the West that could track it.
Nahum says Lovell reflected that "during the war the question was never what will something cost. The question was only can you do it and how soon can we have it? And that was the spirit he took into his peacetime science."
Austerity and the tiny size of the British market, compared with America, were to scupper those dreams. But though the Bomb created a new terror, for a few years at least, Britain saw a vision of a benign atomic future, too and believed it could be the shape of things to come.

Aren't Bonzai trees so beautiful...........


Today's walk through gateway Mesa was a real treat...........I was so taken by the great variety of lichens that covered the beautiful rocks............and the fir trees that had established a living spot in the cracks.

If I've go this right, lichen ( a cooperative blend of fungus and algae) produce a liquid that dissolves rock...........just enough for them to make a home. Then, over the years, as the dirt gathers in the tiny holes and the winter ice expands and makes the cracks bigger, there's enough growing material for a tree seed to germinate.

And, hey, lo and behold, we see little dwarf trees looking as if they are growing happly in their own private space :)