This week on the show our MARK MASON NEWS CHALLENGE centered on the word NUCLEAR (as in "option") and one of the "facts" I offered up was that before we called them "Nuclear Reactors" we called them "Atomic Piles." We all had a good laugh and on we went. Then I got an email from a listener who wrote this:
"In the mid 1950’s when I 1st became involved with the nuclear industry the term "atomic pile” was common usage. There were a number of nuclear reactors in Europe (& Russia) that used U238 (the naturally occurring source of uranium). U238 does not readily fission to produce heat/energy but a comparatively rare isotope, U235, found within the U238 ore fissions fairly easy.
Prior to acquiring the ability to isolate U235 a reactor required huge piles of uranium in order to have enough U235 available to achieve a chain reaction ( going “critical”) to produce power. These huge reactors were unsafe as shown by Chernobyl. Our nuclear powered submarines used a fuel that was enriched to greater than 90% U235 & subsequently in most common fissioning usages.
Through my U.S.Navy training we were taught to use the term 'nu-clear.' However, as for how President Carter pronounces the word, even as a former officer trained in the 'nuclear' navy, given he was reared in the southern part of the U.S.A. all bets are off as to how he & the folks from that part of our country may pronounce many words. WHEN ON THE USS (withheld) WE PLAYED SOFTBALL AT THE NORTH POLE, SUMMER OF 1960. I TOOK THE ATTACHED PHOTO."
So Cool! Thank you, dear Cult Member!