Engineer Guy vs. The Atomic Bomb

Engineer Guy vs. The Atomic Bomb
YouTube player

The element of the week is—you guessed it—uranium, and this week Bill and his crew take us through the engineering that goes into enriching it, i.e. into producing uranium metal with a much-higher-than-natural abundance of the lighter U-235 isotope. This is the technology that produces the “higher octane” uranium used to make nuclear power and also, unfortunately, the really “high octane” version used to make the simplest type of nuclear bomb.

One of the great treats of my chemistry education at UT-Austin was having the original gaseous diffusion process for enriching uranium explained to me by a man who actually worked on the Manhattan Project to implement it, the late great Dr. Norman Hackerman. Bill treats it just as well, and goes on to cover the details of the more modern gas centrifuge process. A more foreboding subject than usual, for an Engineer Guy video, but perhaps more fundamentally important than any of them. The details of this technology are at the heart of vital policy decisions being made every day, in the corridors of power, and to understand one requires understanding the other. [Thanks, Bill!]

Uranium ore for sale on

4 thoughts on “Engineer Guy vs. The Atomic Bomb

  1. ka1axy says:

    The technical details are available at for $49.95:
    as reviewed in Slashdot and The New Yorker…

  2. Gibby says so. says:

    Reblogged this on We Need Fresh Air.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).