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LANL Donates Working FERMIAC Replica To Bradbury

on August 12, 2019 - 5:36pm
People can see the original 1947 FERMIAC at the supercomputing exhibit at the Bradbury Science Museum, but it's safely behind glass. Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Office of Experimental Sciences has donated  a replica of  the FERMIAC - a mechanical device for tracing out neutron transport paths on a table-top blueprint - to the Bradbury Science Museum. Enrico Fermi built the original after the end of the Manhattan Project. It was used for a few years, then found, two decades later, in the dusty corner of an office, explained Todd Urbatsch, leader of the Radflow Project at the Laboratory’s Office of Experimental Sciences. “It gives a historical perspective of the time when computing was in its infancy and insight into the genius of Enrico Fermi," Urbatsch said. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
John Oertel, team leader of the Instrumentation Team of the Plasma Physic Group at LANL, officially hands off the FERMIAC replica to Bradbury Science Museum Director Linda Deck Aug. 6 in a ceremony at the Bradbury Science Museum. Scientists, students, historians and the public will be able to use the replica to follow in Fermi's footsteps and learn what it was like to do science in the 1940s. Oertel and his team meticulously measured the real FERMIAC, then painstakingly reconstructed it. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
The technicians who fabricated the replica talk about how it was done. The model even reproduces an error in the original that put the lever indicating fast or slow on upside down, the team said. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Todd Urbatsch puts the relplica FERMIAC through its paces with help from Jayden Cisneros. Cisneros is the grandson of Jeff Griego, a member of the team that created the replica. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/