Heavy water: Neutrons, nukes, and Norway

Profiles in Norwegian science Ilan Kelman Agder, Norway The Norwegian resistance won World War II. In 1943, Operation Gunnerside destroyed the Nazis’ heavy water coming from a plant at Vemork in Telemark, southern Norway. This action denied the atomic bomb to the enemy. Or so the story goes. As always, reality is far more complicated. Heavy water is a variant of water, a molecule of two hydrogen (H) atoms and one oxygen (O) atom, giving the well-known formula H2O. Hydrogen comprises one electron orbiting one proton. When a neutron is added to hydrogen, it becomes deuterium (D). Deuterium and hydrogen are isotopes, meaning similar
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Ilan Kelman

Ilan Kelman is Professor of Disasters and Health at University College London, England, and Professor II at the University of Agder, Norway. His overall research interest is linking disasters and health, including the integration of climate change into disaster research and health research. Follow him at www.ilankelman.org and @ILANKELMAN on Twitter and Instagram.

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