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Title: Jezebel: Reconstructing a Critical Experiment from 60 Years Ago

Abstract

The Jezebel experiment of 1954-1955 was a very small, nearly-spherical, nearly-bare (unreflected), nearly-homogeneous assembly of plutonium alloyed with gallium. This experiment was used to determine the critical mass of spherical, bare, homogeneous Pu-alloy. In 1956, the critical mass of Pu-alloy was determined to be 16.45 ± 0.05 kg. The experiment was reevaluated in 1969 using logbooks from the 1950s and updated nuclear cross sections. The critical mass of Pu-alloy was determined to be 16.57 ± 0.10 kg. In 2013, the 239Pu Jezebel experiment was again reevaluated, this time using detailed geometry and materials models and modern nuclear cross sections in high-fidelity Monte Carlo neutron transport calculations. Documentation from the 1950s was often inconsistent or missing altogether, and assumptions had to be made. The critical mass of Pu-alloy was determined to be 16.624 ± 0.075 kg. Historic documents were subsequently found that validated some of the 2013 assumptions and invalidated others. In 2016, the newly found information was used to once again reevaluate the 239Pu Jezebel experiment. The critical mass of Pu-alloy was determined to be 16.624 ± 0.065 kg. This talk will discuss each of these evaluations, focusing on the calculation of the uncertainty as well as the critical mass.more » We call attention to the ambiguity, consternation, despair, and euphoria involved in reconstructing the historic Jezebel experiment. This talk is quite accessible for undergraduate students as well as non-majors.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Office of Defense Programs (DP) (NA-10)
OSTI Identifier:
1344338
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-17-21183
DOE Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE

Citation Formats

Favorite, Jeffrey A. Jezebel: Reconstructing a Critical Experiment from 60 Years Ago. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.2172/1344338.
Favorite, Jeffrey A. Jezebel: Reconstructing a Critical Experiment from 60 Years Ago. United States. doi:10.2172/1344338.
Favorite, Jeffrey A. Wed . "Jezebel: Reconstructing a Critical Experiment from 60 Years Ago". United States. doi:10.2172/1344338. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1344338.
@article{osti_1344338,
title = {Jezebel: Reconstructing a Critical Experiment from 60 Years Ago},
author = {Favorite, Jeffrey A.},
abstractNote = {The Jezebel experiment of 1954-1955 was a very small, nearly-spherical, nearly-bare (unreflected), nearly-homogeneous assembly of plutonium alloyed with gallium. This experiment was used to determine the critical mass of spherical, bare, homogeneous Pu-alloy. In 1956, the critical mass of Pu-alloy was determined to be 16.45 ± 0.05 kg. The experiment was reevaluated in 1969 using logbooks from the 1950s and updated nuclear cross sections. The critical mass of Pu-alloy was determined to be 16.57 ± 0.10 kg. In 2013, the 239Pu Jezebel experiment was again reevaluated, this time using detailed geometry and materials models and modern nuclear cross sections in high-fidelity Monte Carlo neutron transport calculations. Documentation from the 1950s was often inconsistent or missing altogether, and assumptions had to be made. The critical mass of Pu-alloy was determined to be 16.624 ± 0.075 kg. Historic documents were subsequently found that validated some of the 2013 assumptions and invalidated others. In 2016, the newly found information was used to once again reevaluate the 239Pu Jezebel experiment. The critical mass of Pu-alloy was determined to be 16.624 ± 0.065 kg. This talk will discuss each of these evaluations, focusing on the calculation of the uncertainty as well as the critical mass. We call attention to the ambiguity, consternation, despair, and euphoria involved in reconstructing the historic Jezebel experiment. This talk is quite accessible for undergraduate students as well as non-majors.},
doi = {10.2172/1344338},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Feb 15 00:00:00 EST 2017},
month = {Wed Feb 15 00:00:00 EST 2017}
}

Technical Report:

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