Sunday, February 15, 2009

Underground in Jachymov

500 meters underground in an old uranium mine from where Curie discovered the nuclear isotope. It was a prison labor camp for the Communists where they sent all the political dissidents. Life span was short. The uranium mined here by the Nazis was shipped to Japan because they were much further on in their research into enrichment. The ore was loaded onto a u-boat that got caught on its way to Japan in the Atlantic not far from North America. It was confiscated by the Americans and Oppenheimer himself came to the dock to receive the ore once it was revealed to them at the Manhattan project what was on board. This ore was then enriched, very quickly turned into two bombs and were subsequently dropped on Japan. So the uranium made it to its destination alright; just not exactly as intended.
The Jachymov mines also produced silver in the 16th and 17th centuries when the town was known as Joachimsthal. The currency they minted was called the Thaler which is from where the name "Dollar" comes from.
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