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That means that one cubic meter of uranium oxide would suffice to lift a cubic kilometer of water (total weight:  million-million kilograms) twenty-seven kilometers into the air! The problem was that this enormous energy would be unleashed within one hundredth of a second: was there some means of controlling the reaction, of taming it for peaceful purposes? He thought it would be possible to stabilize the reaction in some future “uranium engine” by adding cadmium salts to the water used to absorb the neutrons’ energy inside the machines.

Esau at once opened firm negotiations with the Reich Economic Ministry for the provision of high-grade uranium compounds and radium, to obviate their being requisitioned in their entirety by the Air Ministry for luminous paint manufacture. Becker agreed that Esau should be given an official voucher certifying the military importance of the project for the war effort. He added that Esau was to inform Schumann, head of the military research department, of his decision and ask him to draft the voucher.

After the colloquium, Hanle’s chief, Professor Georg Joos  an experimental and theoretical physicist of some renown  told him that this was a development which they could not keep to themselves: Joos was a civil servant with a traditional Prussian sense of duty to what might be termed the German establishment, and he at once wrote a letter to the Reich Ministry of Education, the authority controlling the universities. The Ministry acted with surprising promptness. They deputed Professor Abraham Esau to call an immediate conference.

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