Monday, November 19

We Were There on the Nautilus

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At the height of the Cold War, President Eisenhower ordered the Navy to attempt a submarine pass through the North Pole in response to the nuclear ICBM threat from Sputnik (Russia).  On January 17, 1955, the Nautilus departed Groton, CT.  In May, she sailed from New London, CT to Puerto Rico.  This 1,300-mile transit broke many records….it was the longest ever by a submerged submarine and achieved the highest sustained submerged speed.

On August 3, 1958, the U.S. nuclear submarine Nautilus accomplished the first undersea voyage to the geographic North Pole during Operation Sunshine.  She dove at Point Barrow, Alaska, and traveled nearly 1,000 miles under the Arctic ice cap to reach the top of the world.  She then steamed on to Iceland, forging a shorter route from the Pacific to the Atlantic and Europe.


T
his journey through the Arctic was not without risk, as the instruments could become disoriented beneath the ice, causing the crew to guess their longitude and course.  The commander even considered using torpedoes to blow a hole in the ice if the submarine needed to resurface.

You may not know…
  • The Navy numbers its submarines consecutively.  The USS Holland (SS—1) was commissioned in 1900.  Nautilus was officially SS-571, the 571st Navy submarine, and she was in service from 1954 to 1980.
  • Most submarines of the era could remain submerged 12-48 hours, but the Nautilus could remain underwater for two weeks or more.
  • USS Nautilus was named for the fictional submarine in Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
Nuclear Energy unit :
Nuclear energy is a very powerful type of energy that is used to create electricity for many households across the world.  In our previous book, we learned how it was used to make bombs.  
Fission is when a large atom is split into two or more smaller atoms, thus releasing a huge amount of energy.  When this is done in a controlled environment, it can be used to generate electricity, such as at a nuclear power plant.  About 20% of electricity in the US is generated by nuclear power plants.
Nuclear power is also used to propel ships and submarines, such as we saw in the case of the Nautilus.  Nuclear-powered submarines can stay underwater, and travel at high speeds, for a long time. 
You may not know….
  • The top three states that generate nuclear energy are Illinois, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
  • In the history of nuclear energy there have been three major nuclear power plant disasters: Chernobyl (Russia), Three Mile Island (United States), and Fukushima Daiichi (Japan).
  • The "smoke" you see coming from a nuclear power plant is not pollution, but steam.

  
Read

Make / Do
Define / Identify
  • Electromagnetic radiation
  • Alpha / Beta / Gamma radiation
  • Half-life
  • Fission
  • Fusion
  • Radioactivity
  • Cosmic rays
  • Location of nuclear power plants in the US
Think
  • Do you think nuclear energy is a good or bad thing?  Why?
  • How do you think nuclear energy could be harnessed for positive effects in the future?
  • Would you have ventured under the North Pole on the Nautilus?  Why or why not?
Check out all of our We Were There unit studies!

6 comments:

  1. this looks like a very interesting study. It's so much more impressive when you go straight to the source and read through the eyes of those who experienced it.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, the boys learn so much more through these living books, and I hope other kids enjoy them, too.

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  2. that was so interesting to read. A good study to go through.

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  3. Interesting...I always seem to find myself reading about Chernobyl or watching those videos on YouTube where people are exploring the area.

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  4. The more I read and explore, the more I find I don't know about the Cold War. This was another tidbit I had not heard of. Thanks for sharing about the sub.

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