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Archive for the ‘70th Anniversaries’ Category

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SciTech Tuesday: 70th Anniversary of First Combat Helicopter Rescue

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Lt. Harman (standing left) with ground crew in front of the Sikorsky YR-4B in January 1945. Image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force Museum.

Lt. Harman (standing left) with ground crew in front of the Sikorsky YR-4B in January 1945. Image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force Museum.

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the first recorded helicopter rescue by the U.S Military. U.S. Army Lieutenant Carter Harman dramatically rescued a downed pilot and three wounded British soldiers from the jungles of Burma in the Sikorsky R-4 “Hoverfly.” The high altitude and humidity lowered the capacity of the helicopter to one passenger, forcing Lt. Harman to make four trips to rescue the stranded men.

The Sikorsky YR-4B was constructed of welded steel tubes with a fabric-covered body. Built of plywood ribs also in a fabric-covering, the main rotor stretched to a diameter of 38 feet. The helicopter accommodated a pilot and passenger and a maximum weight load of 2535 pounds. The Hoverfly had a maximum range of 220 miles, cruising speed of 65 mph and an altitude ceiling of 8,000 feet.

Helicopters use rotors to supply the aircraft with lift and thrust, allowing it to navigate forward, backward, and side-to-side. The ability to take off and land vertically allows helicopters the flexibility to reach congested or remote areas. Helicopter rotor blades are curved on top, just like the fixed wings of an airplane. As the rotor turns, air flows faster on top and slower on the bottom creating low pressure above and high pressure below. This lifts the aircraft as the rotor turns.

Post by Annie Tête, STEM Education Coordinator

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70th Anniversary: PT-305 Arrives in the Mediterranean

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PT-305 being loaded for transport in Norfolk, Virginia. Courtesy of 305 crew member Jim Nerison.

 

Seventy years ago, on 21 April 1944, PT-305 arrived in the Mediterranean. Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 22, or RON22, was transported to the combat theater aboard the USS Merrimack. According to the deck log of PT-305, she was kept on board the Merrimack for several days, anchored in the port of Mers El Kébir in Algeria until 25 April. Lt. W.B. Borsdorff wrote: “1825: Put over side into water by U.S. Army and moored portside to alongside USS Merrimack.”

Crew member, torpedo man Jim Nerison remembered:

The squadron spent about three months in Miami, Florida for shake down and training.  The training included all aspects for which the boats were designed:  torpedo firing, gunnery practice, speed trials and boat handling maneuvers.

 In preparation for over-seas duty the boats were dry-docked, freshly painted, and all systems were checked out thoroughly.

 To avoid the rough water off of Cape Hatteras, we once again took the intracoastal waterways north to Norfolk.  PT 305 and three other boats were placed in cradles on the deck of a navy tanker.  The tanker joined a large convoy of other ships for an Atlantic crossing; then through the Straits of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean Sea.  The tanker anchored in the harbor at Oran, Algeria on the north shore of Africa.

 There was only one crane in Oran with the capability to pick up a 70+-ton PT boat so we had to wait two weeks to be off loaded into the water.  We took the boats from Oran, stopped in Algiers to re-fuel, and then on to Bizerte in Tunisia. 

Click here to learn more about PT-305 and her restoration here at The National WWII Museum.

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.

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Easter 1944

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All images from the Collection of The National WWII Museum

Italy in April 1944 was anything but pastoral. The Battle for Anzio was in full swing and would continue for another month, resulting in 7,000 Allied casualties and 36,000 wounded. Easter masses celebrated in the cathedrals in Italy and in the field were a brief relief.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, Allied servicemen were nearly halfway through the first phase of the Bougainville Campaign, which would stretch through November and then continue until nearly the end of the war.

See the Italian images and more at the Digital Collections of the National WWII Museum.

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.

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Memphis Belle Premieres

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Memphis Belle

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

On this day 70 years ago, Paramount Pictures, in conjunction with the First Motion Picture Unit, released The Memphis Belle:  A Story of a Flying Fortress.  Directed by legendary Hollywood perfectionist William Wyler while the director was serving in the United States Army Air Forces and shot in striking 16mm technicolor, The Memphis Belle for the first time brought actual combat-shot aerial battle footage to audiences at home in the United States.

Though the film alleged to document the 25th and final mission of the crew of the B-17 in its title, filming between January and May of 1943 was actually conducted aboard a number of different Flying Fortresses of the 8th Air Force.  Employing revolutionary filming techniques which included cameras mounted in the plane’s nose, tail, right waist and radio hatch positions, the results of Wyler’s work clearly showed both the dangers and heroism of America’s daylight bombers.

Despite the great risks associated with bomber missions, for the entire duration of the filming, Wyler and his crew personally oversaw the project aboard and alongside the B-17 crews; Wyler himself would lose much of his hearing due to the concussive explosions of anti-aircraft flak.

Both critically and popularly acclaimed at the time, The Memphis Belle proved a huge hit and today is preserved for its cultural significance within the National Film Registry.  Click below to watch The Memphis Belle:  A Story of a Flying Fortress in its entirety.

This post by Collin Makamson, Family Programs & Outreach Coordinator @ The National WWII Museum

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Worker Wednesday: Childcare

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This week, April 6-12, 2014 is the Week of the Young Child™, an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In conjunction, this week’s Worker Wednesday touches on childcare in WWII.

April 1944 marked the end of the Higgins Industries publication, The Eureka News Bulletin and the rise of the new Higgins publication, The Higgins Worker. The new publication was more like a newspaper than a magazine—printed on newsprint, shorter in format and available to employees every Friday. The topics were current and concerned matters of everyday employee life, like childcare.

The need for womanpower during WWII brought to the forefront the issue of what to do with the kids while mom is at work. For the first time, there were more married women than single women in the workforce, some of them mothers. Childcare centers were opened around the nation. Federal subsidies from the Federal Works Administration provided extra support for communities, employers and families in need of childcare. Families paid fees which were capped at 50 cents per day in 1943 and 75 cents in July 1945. Some of them, including the one at Higgins Industries, even operated 24 hours a day, for mothers working evening and night shifts. The daycare at Higgins, opened 70 years ago this week, was located in Shipyard Homes, a public housing project established in 1943 to house employees and their families. In July 1944, there were a peak 3,102 federally-subsidized child care centers, enrolling 130,000 children. The center at the mammoth Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California could accommodate over 1,000 children. At the end of the war, many of the subsidized childcare facilities were closed under the assumption that the need was no longer there. California, the state with the most children enrolled in childcare, mounted the loudest protest against withdrawal of funding and some funds continued to flow into the program through early 1946. By July 1946, less than 1/3 of the wartime centers remained open.

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.

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SciTech Tuesday: 70 Years Ago, Mount Vesuvius Erupts

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The last major eruption of Mount Vesuvius began 70 years ago today on March 18, 1944. Massive explosions and lava outflows destroyed three Italian villages and part of a fourth. Approximately 80 B-25 Mitchell bombers of the 340th Bombardment Group based at Pompeii Airfield were damaged beyond repair. Hot ash and tephra, rock fragments from the explosion, wreaked havoc on the acrylic glass windshields, gun turrets, engines and fabric surfaces of the aircraft.

Mount Vesuvius, a stratovolcano identified by a large cone formed from layers of hardened lava and rock, is best known for the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79. The cataclysmic eruption spewed stone and ash over 20 miles into the atmosphere, killing over 16,000 people. The only active volcano in mainland Europe, Vesuvius is considered one of the most deadly volcanoes in the world due to its location near heavily populated areas.

Post by Annie Tête, STEM Education Coordinator

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The National WWII Museum Commemorates D-Day 70

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As the world comes together to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, The National WWII Museum, which originally opened as The National D-Day Museum in 2000, will honor, educate and reflect both in New Orleans and abroad.

All activities are included with admission unless indicated otherwise.  All events are subject to change.

This 70th Anniversary of D-Day commemoration is brought to you with support from The American Legion Ed Brauner Post #307.
AmerLegion Emblem

Can’t join us in New Orleans? Follow the story of D-Day as told though the Museum’s collection of artifacts images and oral histories with our timeline.

Friday, June 6, 2014 in New Orleans

The US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center will open at 6:00 am on June 6. All other Museum Pavilions will open at 7:30 am, closing at 8:00 pm.

Andrew Higgins Drive between Camp and Magazine Streets will be closed to all traffic on June 6, 2014 from 6:00 am-5:00 pm. Please adjust your route accordingly.

6:30 am – 7:15 am
H-Hour Ceremony
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Join us for an emotional commemoration of the Allied landings at Normandy with James Carville at the exact time of the invasion including a presentation of  D-Day veteran oral histories from the Museum’s collection. This event is free and open to the public.

8:00 am-9:30 am
Lecture and Book Signing – Dr. Lyle W. Dorsett, “The Soul Needs Training Too”: Military Chaplains Help Prepare Troops for Operation Overlord
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Dr. Dorsett, author of Serving God and Country: United States Military Chaplains in World War II, will explore the role of chaplains at D-Day.

8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Beyond All Boundaries
The Solomon Victory Theater
This exclusive 4D film, produced and narrated by Tom Hanks, features dazzling effects, CGI animation, multi-layered environments and first-person accounts from the trenches to the Home Front read by Brad Pitt, Tobey Maguire, Gary Sinise, Patricia Clarkson, Wendell Pierce and more. This film will show every hour on the hour with a final screening at 7:00 pm.
Purchase Tickets

8:00 am – 7:35 pm
Final Mission: The USS Tang Experience
The US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Relive the last epic battle of the USS Tang, the most successful submarine in World War II for its fifth and final war patrol. This experience will run every 15, 35, and 55 after the hour with the final showing at 7:35 pm.
 Purchase Tickets

9:00 am – 5:00 pm

D-Day Briefings
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
Museum historians and curators will report on the action at Normandy throughout the day, allowing visitors to follow the progress of the Allies.                          

D-Day Remembered
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion: Forbes Theater
Experience the news of D-Day as those on the Home Front did through newsreels and film footage of the day.

Oral History Showcase: Stories of D-Day Veterans
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion: H. Mortimer Favrot Orientation Center
Hear first-person accounts of the day with video oral histories of D-Day veterans from the Museum’s collection.

Living History Corps
Battle Barksdale Parade Ground
Museum artifacts will be on display as WWII reenactors wearing the uniforms and carrying the equipment of both the Allied and Axis forces share their knowledge about the day-to-day lives of military men and women and the broader lessons of World War II.  

Higgins Boat Tours
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
An extremely rare opportunity, visitors will be allowed to board the Museum LCVP or “Higgins Boat” as a curator explains the craft’s role in the D-Day invasion.

Rockwall Adventure
Battle Barksdale Parade Ground
Kids can enjoy a rockwall adventure while Museum staff share the story of the legendary Pointe du Hoc Rangers at D-Day.

Normandy Beaches Diorama
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

“What Does D-Day Mean to You?”
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
Share your thoughts on the lessons and legacy of D-Day. Select comments will be shared on the Museum’s Blog.

10:00 am – 10:30 am
US Marine Corps Brass Quintet Performance
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
A military band will perform a selection of anthems, patriotic songs and marching music.

10:30 am – 12:00 pm
D-Day Ceremony
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
This commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day will include a very special presentation of the French Legion of Honor to a number of WWII veterans who helped liberate France from Nazi rule. Additionally, the ceremony will feature representatives from the Museum, Allied countries, veterans, and a local student who will honor the memory of a New Orleans soldier who lost his life on D-Day with performances by Sharon Turrentine, the Museum’s Victory Belles, and the Military Band.

12:00 pm
Museum Birthday Celebration
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
We take a moment to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the Museum’s grand opening on June 6, 2000, with an annual tradition of birthday cupcakes.

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Hands-On History
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
Visitors will be able to pick up and try on original and reproduction helmets, uniforms, boots, packs and other personal equipment used by American, British and German soldiers on D-Day.

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
D-Day Veterans Panel Discussion
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
A panel of D-Day veterans will share their first-hand experiences.

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Performance – The Victory Belles
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
The Museum’s Victory Belles will perform patriotic favorites for visitors.

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Lecture – “The Critical Factor: Weather on D-Day”
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Damon Singleton, New Orleans meteorologist and retired Navy, gives a talk on why bad weather pushed back the original date of D-Day. The lecture includes, from the Museum’s own collection, a German weather chart from June 6, 7, and 8, 1944 that predicted the weather would be bad and no invasion was expected.

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Lecture and Book Signing – Dr. John C. McManus, The Dead and Those About to Die
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Acclaimed historian, Dr. John C. McManus shares the harrowing story of the famed Big Red One and their role in the assault on Omaha Beach in his newly released book.

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Andrews Brothers
Stage Door Canteen
Mistaken identities, madcap comedy, romance and musical treasures fill this sweet and hilarious show. It’s 1943 in the South Pacific and, tonight, The Andrews Sisters headline the big USO show. But when a flu outbreak quarantines the girls, stagehands Max, Lawrence and Patrick, along with pin-up girl Peggy Jones, hatch a plan to save the day! Add spectacular dining by Chef John Besh and the American Sector restaurant for the ultimate experience!
Purchase Tickets

6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Baton Rouge Concert Band Performance 
Battle Barksdale Parade Ground
A 60-piece band will perform a selection of anthems, patriotic songs and marching music.

8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Outdoor Film Screening – Band of Brothers, Episodes 1 & 2
Battle Barksdale Parade Ground
This free film screening includes the first two episodes of the award-winning HBO miniseries Band of Brothers shown outdoors in the shadow of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. Showtime is at 8:00 pm. The American Sector will be on hand with food and beverage available for purchase. No outside refreshments will be allowed. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets. Seating is first-come-first-serve. This event is free and open to the public.
RSVP

Saturday, June 7, 2014 in New Orleans

Exhibits will open at 9:00 am on June 7, closing at 5:00 pm.

Andrew Higgins Drive between Camp and Magazine Streets will be closed to all traffic on June 7, 2014 from 8:00 am-5:00 pm. Please adjust your route accordingly.

 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

D-Day Remembered
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion: Forbes Theater
Experience the news of D-Day as those on the Home Front did through newsreels and film footage of the day.

Living History Corps
Battle Barksdale Parade Ground
Museum artifacts will be on display as WWII reenactors wearing the uniforms and carrying the equipment of both the Allied and Axis forces share their knowledge about the day-to-day lives of military men and women and the broader lessons of World War II.  

Higgins Boat Tours
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
An extremely rare opportunity, visitors will be allowed to board the Museum LCVP or “Higgins Boat” as a curator explains the craft’s role in the D-Day invasion.

Rockwall Adventure
Battle Barksdale Parade Ground
Kids can enjoy a rockwall adventure while Museum staff share the story of the legendary Pointe du Hoc Rangers at D-Day.

“What Does D-Day Mean to You?”
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
Share your thoughts on the lessons and legacy of D-Day. Select comments will be shared on the Museum’s Blog.

Oral History Showcase: Stories of D-Day Veterans
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion: H. Mortimer Favrot Orientation Center
Hear first-person accounts of the day with video oral histories of D-Day veterans from the Museum’s collection.

Normandy Beaches Diorama
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

9:00 am – 10:00 am
Baton Rouge Concert Band Performance
Battle Barksdale Parade Ground
A 60-piece band will perform a selection of anthems, patriotic songs and marching music.

10:00 am – 11:30 am
Lecture and Book Signing – Dr. John C. McManus
US Freedom Pavilion
Acclaimed historian Dr. John C. McManus will discuss the actions that occurred at Normandy following D-Day.

11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Lecture and Book Signing – “An Epic of Spiritual Heroism”:  The Role of Combat Chaplains in WWII by Dr. Lyle W. Dorsett
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Dr. Dorsett, author of Serving God and Country: United States Military Chaplains in World War II, will explore the role of chaplains at D-Day.

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
D-Day Memory Panel with Dr. Günter Bischof, Dr. John McManus and Dr. Michael Dolski, moderated by Dr. Keith Huxen
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
This panel discussion of premier historians explores the memory of D-Day from the French, American and German perspectives.

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Hands-on History
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
Visitors will be able to pick up and try on original and reproduction helmets, uniforms, boots, packs and other personal equipment used by American, British and German soldiers on D-Day.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
70th Anniversary of D-Day Documentary: Beaches of Red
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion: H. Mortimer Favrot Orientation Center
Beaches of Red is a documentary produced by the Department of Defense covering the development and deployment of Higgins landing craft during World War II. It begins with a historical overview of the circumstances necessitating the development of landing craft, follows the development of Higgins boats, looks at their use at Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Normandy, and concludes with a look at how landing craft technology continues to influence amphibious tactics.

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
“On That Day – D-Day Experiences”
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Local students pay tribute to the Allied troops of D-Day and offer translations from local French citizens who witnessed history.

At Normandy 

Guests on the Museum’s sold-out 70th Anniversary of D-Day Cruise will attend the official commemoration of the anniversary of D-Day at the American Cemetery. Along with witnessing the ceremony, the group will pay private respects and walk the hallowed grounds where 9,387 Americans are buried.

Special guests on the tour include WWII veterans, Tom Brokaw, Rick Atkinson, Rob Citino, Donald L. Miller and more.

Find out more about unique travel opportunities with America’s WWII Museum at ww2museumtours.org.

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SciTech Tuesday: The Effects of Tropical Disease on Merrill’s Marauders

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Merrill’s Marauders and Chinese troops march side by side down the Ledo Road, February 1944. Image courtesy of the National Archives.

Merrill’s Marauders and Chinese troops march side by side down the Ledo Road, February 1944. Image courtesy of the National Archives.

Seventy years ago on February 24, 1944, Merrill’s Marauders began operations in Burma. Named for commanding General Frank D. Merrill, the special light infantry unit was charged with protecting vital supply routes to China. Working behind enemy lines and frequently outnumbered by Japanese forces, the Marauders relied on flexibility, versatility and the element of surprise. Moving stealthily through dense jungle and over extremely challenging terrain, the unit used pack mules to transport weapons, gear and supplies.

Even during the dry season, oppressive humidity pervaded; men discovered their weapons quickly rusted if not oiled and completely disassembled on a daily basis and found their clothing in a constant state of perpetual dampness. The Marauders faced an environment ripe with tropical disease from mosquito-borne malaria to typhus-laden mites. Provided with only one 2,830 calorie K-ration per day, undernourished men under extreme physical demands were highly susceptible to infectious disease. Cases of dysentery were rampant with shortages of chlorine-based halazone water purification tablets. From February to June 1944, 1,970 Marauders succumbed to disease in comparison with 424 battle casualties.

Malaria control campaign in Ledo, 1945. Image courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Malaria control campaign in Ledo, 1945. Image courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Casualties due to infectious disease were extremely common in tropical theaters. With complex life cycles spread by host organisms, many microbial diseases proved difficult to both prevent and to treat. While newly-made penicillin proved effective in combating bacterial infections, pervasive tropical diseases like malaria and dysentery could not be treated with antibiotics. Both are attributed to a special group of single-celled microorganisms called protists. Unlike bacteria protists have both a nucleus and membrane-bound organelles and because of different cell structure and physiology, protists are not susceptible to antibiotics. Preventing tropical disease often involves controlling the host that carries the disease from person to person. For example malaria, caused by the genus Plasmodium, is transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito. The use of repellent in combination with sleeping nets is highly effective in preventing malaria.

Merrill’s Marauders, constantly on the move in damp, soggy conditions, had little time for mosquito netting or the constant application of insect repellent. Troops did have available the anti-malarial drug, Atabrine. While Atabrine was effective in preventing severe infection when taken regularly, approximately 80% of Marauders suffered at least one malaria attack.

Post by Annie Tête, STEM Education Coordinator

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SciTech Tuesday: Island Hopping, Nuclear Fusion and a Giant Laser

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Seventy years ago, the Battle of Eniwetok was fought on the coral atoll in the Marshall Islands. Following success at Kwajalein, 330 miles to the southeast, Eniwetok offered an airfield and harbor essential to continuing the westward island hopping campaign towards mainland Japan. Facing well entrenched Japanese soldiers during the seven days of fighting, 262 American service members were killed, with 77 missing and 757 wounded.

Beginning in 1948, Eniwetok became the site of a decade of US nuclear testing. The first hydrogen bomb test occurred on Eniwetok on November 1, 1952. Code-named Ivy Mike, the 10.4 megaton device vaporized the small island of Elugelab. Yielding a power over 450 times that of the atomic bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, the test produced a crater over 1.8 miles wide.

Fission devises, like those developed under the Manhattan Project during WWII, derive power from the splitting of the atomic nucleus creating two new smaller atoms. Hydrogen bombs, on the other hand, are thermonuclear devises that harness the power of fusion – the merging of two nuclei. As the name suggests, hydrogen bombs involve the fusion of two atoms of hydrogen, the smallest and lightest element in the universe. Two hydrogen nuclei join together forming one helium atom with small amount of mass is converted to energy. While atoms are extremely small and the amount of energy produced from one fusion event is tiny, large amounts of fusion produce immense amounts of energy. The sun, for example, fuses 686 million tons of hydrogen each second.

Recently, scientists have attempted to recreate conditions at the heart of the sun to harness the energy of nuclear fusion as a power source. Just last week, nuclear physicists working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced that they successfully used a giant laser to fuse hydrogen atoms. Debbie Callahan, co-author of the study, compared the process of squeezing the hydrogen atoms to “compressing a basketball to the size of a pea.” While the energy required to initiate the fusion reaction exceeded the energy produced, the study is a critical milestone for the field of sustainable nuclear energy.

 

 

Post by Annie Tête, STEM Education Coordinator

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Valentine’s Day in Jerome Relocation Center, 1944

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Seventy years ago, these fourth graders set up a cooperative valentine store in the Jerome Relocation Center in Arkansas.

The original caption states: “Jerome Relocation Center, Dermott, Arkansas. Fourth grade children at Jerome, with the help of their teacher, Miss Era Nixon and the Communtity Cooperative Association, planned and operated a cooperative valentine store. There were many details to attend to – purchasing the valentines, decorating the store, assigning salespeople, advertising. Business boomed and over 8,000 valentines were sold enabling each child to realize a profit of 40 cents on his original investment of 63 cents.”

Jerome was one of ten facilities where people of Japanese ancestry, predominantly American citizens were imprisoned during WWII.

Courtesy of the National Archives

The National WWII Museum will host a new special exhibit From Barbed Wire to Battlefields: Japanese American Experiences in WWII opening 15 March 2014.

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.

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