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Land / Terrestrial Wing
Graphite from the World's
First Atomic Reactor in Lucite
On November 16th, 1942, construction started on the world's first
nuclear reactor, '''Chicago Pile-1''', shortened as '''CP-1''', built on a
racquetball court under the abandoned west stands of the Alonzo Stagg
Field stadium on the University of Chicago campus. Operation of CP-1 was terminated in February
1943 and the nuclear reactor dismantled and moved to the laboratory's
Palos Park site A, since a labor strike prevented the construction of the
piles at a laboratory in the Argonne forest preserve. It was reconstructed using CP-1 materials but enlarged with a
radiation shield and named CP-2. It began operation in March 1943.
The reactor was a pile of uranium and graphite blocks, assembled under the supervision of the renowned
Italian physicist Enrico Fermi. It contained critical mass of the fissile material, together with
control rods, and was built as a part of Manhattan Project research done by the
University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory.
The piles consisted of uranium pellets as a
neutron–producing "core" separated from one another by
graphite blocks to slow the neutrons. Fermi himself described the
apparatus as "a crude pile of black bricks and wooden timbers."
The controls consisted of cadmium-coated rods that absorbed neutrons.
Withdrawing the rods would increase neutron activity in the pile to lead
to a self-sustaining chain reaction. Re-inserting the rods would dampen
On December 2, 1942, Chicago Pile 1 (CP-1) was ready for
a demonstration. Before a group of fifty, including dignitaries, a young
scientist named George Weil worked the final control rod while Fermi
carefully monitored the neutron activity. The pile went critical at 3:25
p.m. Fermi shut it down 33 minutes later. In 1943, he rebuilt the pile as
CP-2 at the Argonne Laboratory. Today, the 12-foot bronze sculpture,
by artist Henry Moore, stands on the site
Measuring 4 inches length, 4 inched wide, and an inch in
height, this lucite paperweight encapsulates a 1/2" by 1/2"
wafer of the original graphite used to contain the first nuclear reaction.
Concrete Core Sample from the Mackinaw Bridge
was while working on a renovation project for the Mackinaw Bridge, the
"A Bit of History" company founders discovered they had an
opportunity to obtain a limited supply of original bridge material.
They cut and finished some of this material, thinking the pieces might
make good gifts for family and friends.
They soon discovered the immense popularity of the this
type of historical monument would make these items extremely popular.
After some research and experimentation, they discovered that they could
offer a variety of certified collectables that were both attractive and
affordable enough for everyone to own "a bit of history..."
The "Mighty Mac" is the longest suspension
bridge in the western hemisphere (over 26,000 feet long) and is a favorite
landmark in the state of Michigan, where it connects the upper and lower
peninsulas of that state. Opened to traffic in 1957, in weighs over
a million tons
For more information about the Mackinaw Bridge, click
First Production Chips from
the Construction of the Fast Flux Test Facility
The Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) is a 400-megawatt
(thermal) liquid-metal (sodium) cooled fast neutron flux nuclear test
reactor owned by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The facility is
located in the "400 Area" of the DOE's Hanford Site in
southeastern Washington State. The construction of FFTF was started in
1970, and completed in 1978, with initial operation began in 1980. From
April 1982 to April 1992, the FFTF operated successfully as a national
research facility to test advanced nuclear fuels, materials, components,
nuclear power plant operations and maintenance protocols, and reactor
safety designs. During this time, the FFTF also produced a wide variety of
medical and industrial isotopes, made tritium for the U.S. fusion research
program, and conducted cooperative international research work.
In December 1993, DOE ordered the FFTF to begin shutdown
due to a lack of economically-viable missions at that time. From 1994
through 1997, fuel was removed from the reactor vessel for storage in fuel
storage vessels and above-ground dry storage casks, and 23 of 100 FFTF
operating systems were put into lay up. However, in January 1997,
former Secretary of Energy, Hazel O'Leary, announced that the FFTF would
be maintained in standby condition, pending an evaluation of the reactor
for possible use in the agency's tritium production strategy. As
a consequence of FFTF being placed in standby, facility transition work
was limited to activities that would not preclude reactor restart, and the
TPA milestones were no longer achievable. In December of 2001, the
DOE announced the decision to permanently deactivate FFTF. (Text
and FFTF website).
These millings, encased in a
wedge of lucite, come
from the first piece milled especially for the Fast Flux Test Facility.
Milled in December of 1970, they represent the first step in bringing
nuclear technology to applied medical applications. The paperweight
is 2 inches in height, sloping down to only one inch, 2 inches in width,
and 3 inches in overall length. The silhouette of the FFTF, as well
as the lettering, is reflective.
Statue of Liberty Medallion Made
From Materials Removed During the 1986 Restoration
The Statue of Liberty renovation was
indeed one of the greatest undertakings of the twentieth century,
requiring $230 million in private funding. The Statue of Liberty's many
corrosion problems were associated with thousands of holes pitting the
copper surface caused by a century of salt-air exposure, distortion of the
iron framework produced by continuous stress and fatigue, & the
previous repair attempts that created different problems and more
The French-American Committee for the Restoration of the Statue of
Liberty was established in 1981. Following an initial diagnostic report
for the NPS, it was determined that substantial work needed to be done.
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island
Foundation was then formed to raise the
needed funds and to oversee the restoration of both the Statue of Liberty
and Ellis Island. Again, as in the past, private contributions were the
backbone of the foundation's success: More than $295 million was
collected, with $86 million going to the statue's restoration.
On July 4, 1986, America threw a birthday party for the Statue of
Liberty that will not soon be forgotten. With a golden sunset glowing in
the background, President Ronald Reagan declared, "We are the keepers
of the flame of liberty; we hold it high for the world to see." Later
that day, the president pressed a button that sent a laser beam across the
water toward the statue. Slowly, dramatically, majestically, a light show
unveiled Liberty and her new torch, and the most spectacular fireworks
show America had ever seen exploded across the sky. With an entire nation
watching - along with 1.5 billion television viewers around the world -
and thousands of people filled with gratitude, one wonders how Bartholdi
and Laboulaye might have felt as Liberty enlightened the world that
The medallion was crafted from authentic materials from
the Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island National Monument. These
valuable materials were made available by the Statue of Liberty - Ellis
Island Foundation, through their official licensee, the Gold Leaf Corporation.
The Gold Leaf Corporation certifies the authenticity of these materials
removed during the restoration of the Statue of Liberty from 1982-1992.
Historical records make no mention of the source of the
copper used in the Statue of Liberty. In the town of Visnes, near
Stavanger, Norway, tradition holds that the copper came from the
French-owned Visnes Mine. Ore from this mine, refined in France and Belgium,
was a significant source of European copper in the late nineteenth
century. In 1985, Bell Laboratories used emission spectrography to compare
samples of copper from the Visnes Mines and from the Statue of Liberty,
found the spectrum of impurities to be very similar, and concluded that
the evidence argued strongly for a Norwegian origin of the copper.
|Section of Barded Wire from 'The
The "Crusade for Freedom" was sponsored
by the "National Committee for a Free Europe, Inc"., an
organization which operated Radio Free Europe as an independent
counterpart of the government operated Voice of America. The Campaign was
launched by General Eisenhower on Labor Day, 1950, with General Lucius D.
Clay, former military governor of Germany, as its national chairman. The
purpose of the Campaign was to offer all Americans an opportunity to play
a personal part in a demonstration of the "free world's determination
to resist Communist aggression."
Activities sponsored by the Campaign include a drive to
secure signatures on a Freedom Scroll, which was enshrined in the
Crusade's Freedom Bell in Berlin;
fund raising for Radio Free Europe; and "Winds of Freedom," an
operation which launched thousands of balloons carrying millions of
leaflets into Czechoslovakia and Poland.
However, the "Crusade for Freedom" was later
publicly discovered to be conduit for the Central Intelligence Agency to
both secure & launder money for their radio networks, as well as
provide a positive spin and its activities in eastern Europe.
Although the Crusade for Freedom never raised enough money to actually
fund Radio Free Europe (it could only finance a third of its budget), its
advertising slogans such as "Help Truth Fight Communism," along
with parades, public forums, and other events, served to mobilize support
for America's cold war policies.
At some point during the group's time, the organization
produced, as an award of sorts, small sections of barded wire, encased in
lucite, from 'The Iron Curtain' to present to donors and others
associated with their activities. This is one of those lucite
displays. It reads: " This authentic barded wire from The Iron
Curtain is awarded in recognition of distinguished service to Crusade For
to all the Warner Bros. employees at the Warner Bros. Burbank studio
back around 1990. The studio had installed two large pieces of the
Berlin Wall outside the company store. All employees of the studio
were given these commemorative paperweights at that time. I was an
working there at the time and this was the one I received. It is
very nice, about 4" across and 3" deep.
The piece of the
wall encased in the lucite has the authentic stamp on it which states 'Authentic
Berliner Maurer' with an image of the Brandenberg Gate. Text around
the bottom says This is a remnant of the Berlin Wall, which
stood as a barrier against the free exchange of ideas, information and
culture. You helped bring this wall down.
On the bottom of the paperweight is the Time Warner logo from that time as
well as the words Time Warner.