Eric B. Norman
(Department of Nuclear Engineering, UC Berkeley)

Seaborg's Plutonium? A Case Study in Nuclear Forensics

Passive x-ray and gamma–ray analysis was performed on UC Berkeley’s EH&S Sample S338. The object was found to contain 239Pu. No other radioactive isotopes were observed. The mass of 239Pu contained in this object was determined to be 2.0 + 0.3 μg. These observations are consistent with the identification of this object as containing the 2.77-μg PuO2 sample produced in 1942 and described by Glenn Seaborg and his collaborators as the first sample of 239Pu that was large enough to be weighed.