In the summer of 2013, Physicist Timothy Koeth of University of Maryland received an unexpected gift from one of his friends. It was a small metallic cube, 2 inches per side, wrapped in a piece of paper. Koeth recognized the cube immediately from old grainy photos he saw in books on nuclear history, and if there was any doubt, the accompanying note settled it. It read: “Taken from Germany, from the nuclear reactor Hitler tried to build. Gift of Ninninger.”
This cube was one of hundreds that German nuclear scientists built for an experimental reactor, before the cubes were confiscated by Allied forces and shipped to the United States. Aside from a handful of cubes, like the one sitting on Timothy Koeth’s desk today, the whereabouts of the rest are unknown.
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Photo: John T. Consoli, University of Maryland