Adolf Hitler’s bunker had fifth escape route claims expert
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Under the orders of the fascist leader, researchers used hundreds of uranium cubes to try and build a nuclear reactor. As neutrons bombarded the uranium-235 atoms in the cubes, the atoms would have split, releasing enormous amounts of energy. The reactor was dismantled by Allied forces at the end of World War 2, and the 664 uranium cubes – which had been buried – were shipped to the US.
Now, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have reported initial results from an authenticity test.
The techniques might also help with investigations into illicit trafficking of nuclear material, they claim.
In December 1938, physicists Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch made the startling discovery of nuclear fusion in a Berlin laboratory that would immediately revolutionise nuclear physics.
Soon after, the Manhattan Project between the US, UK and Canada that gave birth to the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan at the end of the war.
Hitler wanted to build a nuclear bomb (Image: GETTY)
Nazi Germany had its own nuclear programme (Image: GETTY)
The German nuclear weapons programme, informally known as the Uranverein, went through several phases of work, but was ultimately “frozen at the laboratory level”.
Hitler wanted to strap the bombs to his V2 rockets that had reigned hell on Britain during the Blitz.
Luckily, the Nazis ultimately failed in the quest to achieve a breakthrough in nuclear technology by the time the war ended.
Brittany Robertson from PNNL said: “I’m glad the Nazi program wasn’t as advanced as they wanted it to be by the end of the war, because otherwise, the world would be a very different place.”
Several teams were exploding several options for the Fuhrer.
A uranium cube is being investigated (Image: PNNL)
One of them was under Werner Heisenberg in Berlin, and a second based in Gottow, was heralded by physicist Kurt Diebner.
Uranium cubes were produced to fuel nuclear reactors at both these sites.
Measuring about two inches on each side, hundreds of the cubes were hung on cables in a chandelier-like arrangement.
These were submerged in heavy water – water that contains heavy hydrogen which would have acted to regulate the nuclear reaction.
But after the Allied confiscated the nuclear cubes, many went missing.
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The cubes would have been lowered into heavy water (Image: WIKI)
The plot was spoilt by the Allies (Image: WIKI)
One cube, sealed in a protective case, is at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) based in Richland, Washington, but no one is sure how it got there.
To prove the cube’s origins, Ms Robertson began modifying some analytical techniques to combine with forensic methods.
She has turned to radiochronometry, the nuclear field’s version of a technique that geologists use to determine the age of samples based on radioactive isotope content.
It could reveal where the original uranium was mined, which might indicate whether it was produced for the Heisenberg or Diebner group.
The researchers will present their results at ACS Fall 2021, the autumn meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), which is being held this week.