Thursday, August 12, 2010

NRRL1249.B21 was WWII's top secret

It is not hard to replicate an Atom Reactor - just ask Joe,Mao, Winnie or Chuck.

(Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Churchill and de Gaulle.)

Even George gave it a good shot.

(George Laurence was a junior Nova Scotia-born scientist who decided to build one on his  own time,by himself and with his own money --- he did a good enough job of it to be invited , along with Canada, into the very small wartime circle  of the atomic bomb elite.)

The American Army built one - along with a few Bombs.

But they found The Bomb a piece of cake compared to building a Frank Sinatra.

Since the original guy was draft-exempt because of a torn eardrum (no wonder he sang so good !), I am sure the Army tried - it was bad for the fighting man's morale to have the gal-pal back home swooning over a 4Fer.

NRRL 1249 B.21 sounds like a top secret bomber, or a new super explosive, but it actually was just a bit of mold like you might scrape off an orange or a dank basement wall.

But it was a lot more like a Hollywood star or a Billboard chart-topping singer - an exact replicate couldn't be build and even a close substitute won't do at all.

All or nothing.

When the Russians and the Japanese heard rumours that the Germans, British and Americans were building an uranium bomb, based on the principle of fission they could at least hope to duplicate it.

Uranium isn't particularly scarce and the basic principles of fission were made known to all atomic physicists worldwide between 1938 to 1940.

The costs and difficulties of the chemistry and engineering were far more daunting, in practise - but it could be done, given a little time - ah, Joe ?

But without a spore or two of NRRL 1249.B21 or NRRL 832 or NRRL 1951 (still in use world wide 65 years later) , you were reduced to using Fleming's original "PD" spores - freely available - but only producing 2 units of penicillin per milliliter not 200 units a milliliter.

That meant if you weren't part of the NRRL-OSRD charmed circle, you'd have to do 100 times as much labour as those specially favoured by Coghill and Richards.

A sweet deal for a few lucky corporations - particularly since it was all paid for by the long suffering taxpayer.

Let's recap: the private stuff was PD but the publicly funded stuff was proprietary.

Only in America, you say ?

Let's just call it a New Deal for the Rich and Influential.....

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