Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hard to believe we've never heard of this guy

I've got a new post up at the teaching blog about showing kids how to spot questionable claims, using this article from the generally reliable Wikipedia as an example:

Wallace L. Minto (August 6, 1921, in Jersey City, New Jersey, United States – September 3, 1983) had a passion for science at a very young age. For instance, at age 13, he and his father, Wallace Milton Minto, stock piled more than 50 tons of uranium rich ore in Sparta, NJ. He was also the first to split the uranium atom while still a teenager. This nearly created an atomic explosion in his family home. At age 16, Wallace synthesized radium and invented what is now known as "Scotchlite". He had a copyright on his own periodic chart which renamed all the elements.

When only 16, he was a student at Columbia College and was later instrumental in convincing Albert Einstein to write a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt (dated August 2, 1939) stressing the need for the United States to expand its experimentation with Atomic Energy, leading to the Manhattan Project. Consequently, Minto sold his uranium rich ore to the U.S. Government for use in the Manhattan Project.[1]

On June 26, 1944, Minto was enlisted by Dr. Andrew H. Dowdy, director of the Manhattan Department of the University of Rochester, to take charge of the Special Problems Division of the Manhattan Project. Minto reported directly to General Leslie Groves and reportedly threw Groves out of his lab for tampering with his beakers.

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