Monday, 28 May 2012 17:42

Lt. DeForest Lord, Jr. - 1944

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My dad, Lt. DeForest Lord Jr., US Navy, 1944. He died in 1975 from a brain tumor, most likely caused by radiation exposure he received while working as a contract dentist in Los Alamos.

In May, 1946, there was an accident involving a sphere of plutonium encased by two hollow half spheres of beryllium.  The lead scientist, Louis Slotin, was using a screwdriver to gradually bring together the two halves of beryllium and measure the radiation increase.  The test was called “tickling the dragon’s tail” because it was so dangerous and was being observed by 7 others in the room.  The screwdriver slipped and the pieces made full contact.   A blue light filled the room and Slotin felt a wave of heat over his body.  He manually separated the spheres and the reaction stopped.  My father later told me that he was called in to remove fillings, crowns and all metal work from the teeth of the participants so that doctors and scientists could determine how much radiation they had received and because, as my mom told me, "they were so hot."  Slotin died 9 days after the incident.  The plutonium core had also been involved in a previous accident in August, 1945, that killed scientist Harry Daglian.  It became known as the Demon Core.

Dad was a delayed casualty of WWII and I miss him still.  Thanks for your service.

--Mike Lord

Read 3142 times Last modified on Sunday, 27 May 2018 04:11
Mike Lord

4th generation Santa Fe Gringo.

1 comment

  • Comment Link Mike Lord Friday, 01 June 2012 16:02 posted by Mike Lord

    Tom Lehrer was a scientist at Los Alamos before he became an entertainer and satirist. My parents spoke of watching him perform there before he hit the big time. Here's a song he wrote about Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LuXCkibX-k

    These guys had no idea about the degree of the dangers they were dealing with.

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