Blowups Happen

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Heinlein, Robert A. (in initial publication, "Robert Heinlein"). "Blowups Happen." Astounding September 1940. Collected The Man Who Sold the Moon. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1953. Frequently reprinted, including The Best of Science Fiction. Groff Conklin, ed. New York: Crown Publishers, 1946. See the Internet Speculative Fiction Database for other reprints.[1]

In the opening of Wikipedia summary:

The story describes the tensions among the staff of a nuclear reactor. Heinlein's concept of a nuclear reactor was one of a barely contained explosion, not the steady-state thermal plants developed later. As a consequence the work is dangerous, and the slightest mistake could be catastrophic. All the technical staff are monitored by psychologists who have the authority to remove them from the work at any time lest they crack under the pressure and precipitate a disaster. Needless to say, the monitoring itself is part of the problem.[2]

Note date of story and its consideration of the psychological and political implications of even the peaceful use of atomic energy. Compare and contrast the military uses of a radiological weapon[3] in Heinlein's "Solution Unsatisfactory" (1941).

See for context Alec Nevala-Lee's Astounding … (2018), pp. 225-26.

RDE, finishing, 14Sep19