Historical Encyclopedia of Atomic Energy

By Stephen E. Atkins | Go to book overview

B

Bainbridge, Kenneth

Kenneth T. Bainbridge (1904-1996) was an American physicist who directed the atomic tests at the Alamogordo Bombing Range in World War II. He was born on July 27, 1904, in Cooperstown, New York. His college education was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Graduate school was at Princeton University, where he earned a M.A. in 1927 and a Ph.D in 1929. For five years after graduation, Bainbridge worked first at the Bartol Research Foundation and then at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. Beginning in 1934, he was a Harvard physics professor. He remained attached to Harvard University until his retirement in 1975.

His primary scientific achievement was the development of high-resolution mass spectrometry. In 1936 he perfected a device that used successive electric and magnetic fields to separate ions according to their mass. This machine has become one of the most useful analytical tools in physics, chemistry, geology, meteorology, biology, and medicine.

Bainbridge participated in both major American scientific projects in World War II. His early war work was with I. I. Rabi at the MIT Radiation Laboratory on the radar project. In March 1941 Bainbridge traveled to England to study radar developments there and attended a meeting of the MAUD Committee, where he first learned about the details of a possible atomic weapon. On his return to the United States, he reported his findings to Vannevar Bush. His job at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory was with George Kistiakowsky's division planning for the first atomic test. In March 1945, as the test assumed more importance, Bainbridge was placed in charge of a special division, Project TR, for a trial blast of several tons of TNT for calibration purposes. This successful test took place on May 7. Most of his

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Historical Encyclopedia of Atomic Energy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • A 1
  • B 40
  • C 69
  • D 107
  • E 114
  • F 124
  • G 143
  • H 155
  • I 169
  • J 183
  • K 193
  • L 201
  • M 223
  • N 240
  • O 267
  • P 276
  • Q 296
  • R 299
  • S 318
  • T 357
  • U 380
  • V 391
  • W 397
  • Y 406
  • Z 408
  • Chronology of Atomic Energy 411
  • Selected Bibliography 427
  • Index 445
  • About the Author 492
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