The history of atomic energy in Canada, as is indicated in this symposium, proceeds from international roots to national application, and from pure science - or rather sciences, recognizing that medicine, chemistry and physics are all represented in this gathering - into their application in the engineering of the Canadian nuclear programme, and finally, in Alvin Weinberg's paper, to reflections on the consequences of atomic energy, and the responsibility that an atomic program confers on those who design, build and manage it.
Our first speaker takes us back to the prehistory of the Canadian atomic project, to its French origins and to its accidental transfer, as part of the British atomic enterprise, to Canada. The British, in the early 1940s, gave some consideration to involving Canada, with its uranium resources and its wide-open spaces, possibly suitable for testing, with their atomic research. To Canada, therefore, they transferred a research team in 1942-43. The scientists and engineers on this team were to act in cooperation with the much larger and richer American atomic project. Keeping them in Canada preserved an element of British control, and also reflected the reluctance of the Americans to import another draft of foreign scientists, and possibly foreign influence, to the United States.
Bertrand Goldschmidt was part of that team. He connects us with the pioneer of atomic research, Madame Curie, whose student he was. He is well-known as a distinguished pioneer of atomic research, as a radio-chemist, subsequently as an atomic diplomat, and, incidentally, one of the foremost historians of atomic energy - one of the few who has made the transition from science to history with aplomb, distinction, and success. But what Dr. Goldschmidt wants most to be remembered for, he tells me, is his successful campaign to abolish Rule 11 at Chalk River - the rule that kept men scientists out of the women's quarters, and vice-versa.
Next we have another member of Goldschmidt's laboratory, Les Cook, another chemist, who came to the atomic project from the University of Toronto, via Berlin and Cambridge. Les Cook represents the connection that formed between Canadian science and the Cavendish laboratories; his career in Canada and the United States exemplifies both the opportunities and the difficulties that confronted Canadian science, and Canadian scientists, during and after the Second World War. To historians, Les is notable for his ability to encapsulate history in a telling personal anecdote. It is a rare gift, and one that Les develops to perfection.
With Geoff Hanna, we have before us someone whom Ara Mooradian properly describes as a "scientist's scientist", one who has enjoyed a distinguished career at Cambridge, at Malvern during the war, and subsequently at Chalk River, where he has successively headed up nuclear physics, then physics, and finally research. Geoff represents, as well, the British link with Chalk River, for as we know Chalk River was the fruit of a collaboration between Canada and Britain, a collaboration that, as the British atomic historian Margaret Gowing has argued, was rather thoughtlessly broken off in 1945-46. The result was a diminution of the contacts between Canadian and British atomic science and scientific development, probably to the detriment of both sides. It was not the first example of the influence of politics on Canada's atomic project - the project was after all the fruit of a political decision - but it was not one of the happiest occasions.
John Foster represents the transition from the relatively pure laboratory period of the late 1940s and early 1950s to the application of scientific knowledge to the practical construction of reactors. The decision to build a Canadian power reactor, the future CANDU, was made in roughly six months, between July 1954 and January 1955, and principally by two men, Bill Bennett, AECL's then president, and Dr. W.B. Lewis, the company's research director. At the same time, it was decided to build a Canadian reactor in conjunction with a major Canadian utility, which turned out to be Ontario Hydro. It was a fortunate decision, and spared Canada for many years from the utility wars that have elsewhere characterized the development of atomic energy. The speed, and the decisiveness, of these events should be underlined, as well as the availability of a talented team of engineers, who sat in W.B. Lewis's extended seminars at Chalk River, and who included John Foster. John later went on to Canadian General Electric, where he participated in the design of the NPD reactor, to Douglas Point, the first true CANDU, to head up the AECL nuclear power division, and finally to be president of AECL. John Foster, throughout his career, has been known as a mainstay of the nuclear industry, not least because of the personal qualities - sincerity and candour - he has brought to his work.
Finally, we have Alvin Weinberg's contribution. Dr. Weinberg's reputation needs no comment from me. He has been for many years one of the most prominent commentators, not only on science, but on the role of science in society. He is best known in atomic circles for the attention he has given to the responsibility of science for its creations, especially nuclear energy, and it is in that line that his paper proceeds.
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