Release that Witch Chapter 1191
Chapter 1191: Rare Element
Roland picked up a lead box and weighed the silver metal on his hand. Before it was activated, it was no different from ordinary iron. The metal was harmless as long as you did not consume it. It was inconceivable that this piece of metal contained an immense amount of energy that did not really fit its small and innocent appearance.
However, this was the very element that enabled men to convert mass energy for the first time.
This was on a whole new level compared to chemical reactions.
There were roughly fifty lead boxes in the cabinet, each containing one kilogram of Uranium-235 that was almost purified, which added up to fifty kilograms in total.
And there were more than one such cabinet in the room.
If he activated all the uranium in this room together...
Then he would probably release real "high energy".
"Can they really produce what you call 'the Glory of the Sun'?" Nightingale asked curiously. "Will they really explode upon ignition? It seems to me that they aren't combustible at all."
"Do you want to know?" Roland said in amusement. "It's much simpler than you thought. We just need to put these metal ingots together, and they'll explode as bright as the sun. The uranium in this one single cabinet will be more than enough to raze Neverwinter to the ground. That's why Lucia has a great responsibility. If she accidentally — "
The room suddenly fell into a dread silence.
Lucia covered her hand to her mouth, looking terrified.
"... There's no way." At long last, Azima spoke in sheer disbelief, "Are you saying that we might wreck the whole city if we're careless?"
Hearing these words, Nightingale immediately snatched the lead box from Roland, put it back to the cabinet, and attempted to drag him out of the room.
"Oi... wait, what are you doing?"
"Isn't that obvious?" Nightingale said desperately. "I'm getting you out of this city and ask people to get rid of these things! Lucia, call Wendy to contact the Administrative Office right now!"
"I... I'll go see Princess Tilly," Azima said. "Only she could mobilize the Sleeping Spell to take action."
"Stop! I was just joking — " Roland yelled.
It took him quite a while to calm everyone down.
"Are you sure this is just a joke?" Nightingale grunted.
"Ahem, yes... this is just a theory," Roland added quickly. "It's not that simple to activate these elements. I can't guarantee that it'll be successful to be honest even if I use all my power."
Lucia heaved a sigh of relief and said, "Your Majesty... you scared the hell out of me."
"This isn't funny," Nightingale said accusingly as she glared at Roland. "If Wendy and Scroll heard this, whether this is a joke or not — "
"They would probably move the new institute to somewhere far away from Neverwinter, right?" Roland sighed.
"I'm glad you know that, or they'll probably just get you far away from."
"Alright then. Let's just forget about this conversation..." Roland said after clearing his throat. "As long as you all keep this to yourself, Wendy and Scroll will never know."
"But someone might already hear it," Nightingale said casually as she looked out the window.
"Then I will reward you one bottle of Chaos Drinks to cut off any information," Roland negotiated immediately.
"Deal," Nightingale said and disappeared from their sight.
Looking at goggling Lucia and Azima, Roland said with a shrug, "Er... never mind that. It is also a part of the joke."
Seconds later, Nightingale reappeared and reported, "No suspicious figures were found, but the deal — "
Finally satisfied, Nightingale ate her precious dried fish while humming.
"Well... Your Majesty," Azima said gravely after a moment of hesitation. "It wasn't all a joke, was it? Because you said earlier that we must weigh the material accurately. Each lead box has to be precisely four kilograms. You also stressed that we need to weigh the material with the container together to make sure that the metal in each box has exactly the same weight." Azima paused for a second and continued, "Also, you told us that we should ask the guards to block off the surrounding area in the event of a break in or an accident before coming to see you in the castle. You said we must not investigate on our own, which shows that... these metal pieces are indeed kind of dangerous, right?"
Mildly surprised, Roland replied, "You're quite observant. Yes, most of your inference is correct. Apart from its toxicity, weight is also another crucial factor. That's why I asked you to separate them." Roland was impressed with Azima's meticulous attention to detail. She could deduce the property of the research subject based on the research protocol. Probably that was how she had developed her tracking ability. "However, if we want to turn them into a weapon against the demons, we also need another thing."
"Are you referring to those particles we stored separately?" Azima asked immediately.
"Not quite, but you are almost correct."
The composition of raw uranium was very complicated. Apart from uranium compounds, there were also many other radioactive materials, most of which were secondary daughter products that either had lost their radioactivity and become a stable atomic element, or they were elements that were still in the process of radioactive decay. Although the radiation clan had purified ores when they had built the Temple of the Cursed, the composition of these raw materials had not changed much, and this is shown by Lucia's result.
Uranium 238 had the highest percentage among other elements. Although it could not be used to produce weapons, it could be recognized by the Magic Ceremony Cube, and it had very similar properties to Uranium 235, so they were all sent to the laboratory at the North Slope.
Uranium-235 with a purity of more than 90% could be used as a weapon. It only accounted for 1% of natural uranium found in the Earth's crust. Therefore, the biggest problem for most researchers was how to extract it.
However, Uranium 235 was not the rarest element on Earth. Its daughter products, such as thorium, radium, radon, and polonium, were even rarer. In fact, Roland also needed polonium-210, the common isotope that could be found in nature, for his Radiation Project.
Roland had received nine-year compulsory education in his previous world, so he knew very well about radium and polonium. Maria Curie made her fame through the discovery of these two elements. Despite the fact that polonium-210 only had a short half-life of a hundred days with an extremely small concentration, Maria Curie had still successfully discovered it from the mineral pitchblende based on its powerful radioactivity.
Both radium and polonium could be used to produce neutron sources, and this led to the second problem: detonation.
The first generation of nuclear weapons was pretty simple. Basically, the mechanism was to let fissionable nuclides release energy. Take uranium-235 for example. When uranium-235 received a neutron, it was activated and became unstable uranium-236 that further splitted into two lighter nuclides and several isolated neutrons. The change in the mass of nuclides was thus converted to energy.
The released neutrons thus hit the nuclides again, initiating subsequent fissions, and released greater energy. Such a series of fissions was what people normally referred to as the nuclear chain reaction.
In the microscopic world, atomic nuclei were wide apart from each other. If an atom was a football field, then the nucleus was as small as an ant in the middle of the field. To make sure that the nucleus was hit, the football field had to be large enough so that the neutrons would not fly out of range. Also, this ant had to be also placed on the path of the neutrons.
To adjust the size of this football field, they had to adjust the mass and shape of the nuclides.
In fact, critical mass was not a fixed number. It also depended on the shape of the nuclides and a series of complex calculations. Apparently, it was easier to hit the ant when the football field was stacked up than when it was arrayed in a line. Roland had heard a miserable defeat in a war because of miscalculations. Nevertheless, as his predecessors had done the complicated and tedious research for him, Roland did not need to start from scratch and perform tons of experiments. He already knew that spheres had the smallest critical mass, and that for uranium-235, its critical mass was fifty two kilograms.
That was the reason he insisted that each lead box should be no more than one kilogram.
Since critical mass was adjustable, Roland could, theoretically, reduce the critical mass by shrinking the size of the football field or providing more neutrons. High-explosive bombs were actually created using the former method. When the explosion occurred, its reactants were squeezed. The density of the bomb thus exceeded its limit. However, due to the limitation in the current technologies in Neverwinter, Roland did not think he could calculate the correct critical mass to precisely control the explosion. As such, he directed his attention to the latter method.
To use neutrons and maintain a sustained and controlled nuclear reaction.