The First Weighing of Plutonium

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This was tedious because the entire mass had to be vigorously stirred as the solution cooled and the crystals settled out. If we allowed it to cool after having evaporated too much water we would get a lower hydrate than the hexahydrate, and ais wouldn't dissolve in the ether. If we left too much water in the solution, then the crystals would come out, but they would be wet and we would get too large a water phase in the ether extraction. This would carry too much uranium with the plutonium. We didn't have the time or the facilities to do an accurate calibration of the necessary density, but we discovered empirically a method that worked as well.

GLENN T. SEABORG I thought for sure, John, you were also going to remark on the requirement that a fellow ought to be able to go out on the golf course on short notice at almost any time. Before concluding, I want to make special mention of the contributions of the leaders of our project, Arthur Holly Compton, and those who worked with him such as N o m Hilberry and Dick Doan. During this 25th anniversary of the first Weighing of plutonium we have looked back at some of the events that helped to begin the Nuclear Age.

JOHN E. WILLARD We all know that we are commemoratingan occasion which had its origins in Glenn Seaborg, that he was responsible for bringing many of us here 25 years ago, and that his genius and foresight were responsible for catalyzhg the best efforts of all associated with him. As I think back to those years, some of his methods of doing this appear in a sharper, though perhaps apocryphal, light. There was the initiation ceremony. For me, having been accustomed to working with nothing smaller than a vacuum line, this took the form of being presented with 1microgram of plutonium with the suggestion that I work out a method for separatinga kilogram a day from lo5 curies of fission products-and do this within a week or two.

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