Friday, January 23, 2015

Part of Historic Westinghouse Van de Graaff 'Atom Smasher' Preserved

Gary Gardner of Dream Flight Adventures photographs the former Westinghouse atom smasher in Forest Hills, Thursday, July 25, 2013. Gardner and his company considered turning the site into a learning center for the Woodland Hills School District.
(Image Source: Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review)

By Michael Hasch

The small brick building may be gone, a developer acknowledges, but he vows the world's first industrial atom smasher is being preserved. 

“The atom smasher will always survive!” Washington, D.C.-based developer Gary Silversmith said Tuesday night after demolition crews leveled the building along the Forest Hills-Chalfant border that housed the towering steel orb known officially as a 1937 van de Graaff particle accelerator. 

The accelerator resembles a giant light bulb and was the genesis of the Westinghouse Electric Corp.'s foray into nuclear power.

More - Link >>>

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Video Report (WTAE-TV 4):
Link >>>

Special Thanks: James W. McKee.

Van de Graaff Electrostatic Generator at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science: Link >>>

Related Blog Post ---

Historic Westinghouse Van de Graaff 'Atom Smasher' At Risk  (2013 Jan. 30):
Link >>>

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < >..


Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < >
Electronic Mail - < >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < >
< >
Twitter: < >
Facebook: < >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < >
* Public Transit:
  < >

1 comment:

  1. I’m glad to see that the iconic Westinghouse “Atom Smasher” will survive, even if it’s only the pressure vessel that surrounded and insulated the accelerator proper. (I wonder if any of the accelerator components, such as the accelerating tube and the belt drive, are still inside. No matter, since the five-story-high “light bulb” is all that people could ever see of it except for the small group that actually worked with the accelerator.)

    From 1953-56 I was a member of that group studying nuclear properties using fast neutrons as probes. It was my first job after graduate school, and I left to go to Europe and never came back to Westinghouse. By then the accelerator was definitely outmoded, and the group soon stopped using it. The “small brick building” that is no more housed our offices and workshops. It had historic value only to those who worked there. You can’t save everything, and I’m glad the most visible part will survive.

    The accelerator is described in some detail by W. H. Wells et al., Physical Review Vol. 58, 162 (1940). It was used successfully for studies of charged particle nuclear reactions, and later neutron-induced reactions, until about 1956. Perhaps the most important work done with the accelerator was the discovery of nuclear fission induced by gamma-rays (see R. O. Haxby et al., Physical Review Vol. 58, 92 (1940), which ended with the modest suggestion that this process of photo-fission be referred to as “phission” to distinguish it from neutron-induced fission. (This was never adopted, needless to say.)

    Rolf Sinclair
    University of Maryland, College Park