Critique Of Pure Reason
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June 1st, 1938

To the Council of Overseers,

I would consider the recent arguments against containing the transuranic process beneath comment were they not so persuasive to those who ought to know better.

If you on the Council believe the matter is "in hand" you are grossly mistaken. Our monopoly on this phenomenon is pure illusion. The Overseers can either get serious about developing long-term permanent containment procedures - or watch world governments exploit Element 94 with consequences beyond my ability to speculate. Without immediate, massive intervention, scientists and laboratories beyond our reach will be manufacturing this material, unconstrained and ill understood, within the next year.

To answer a common protest - it is true, we understand the mathematics of fission and fusion far better than the Telekill alloy, or the Lizard, or the creeping hungry sands of Thule. It is also true that fusion powers our sun, upon which all life depends - but we don't live on the sun. Consider this math:

There are only three hundred pounds of refined uranium in the United States. There is less than a gram of Element 94 in the whole world.

Fermi's process will produce ten thousand grams of it in the first five years.

More than our Pile-19 reactor could produce in a century. Totally beyond Foundation control.

We are no longer talking about cheap electricity or watches that glow in the dark. We are talking about bombs which the Foundation has never been reckless enough to make, with more destructive power than a dozen angry reptiles.

Perhaps the American government will "merely" build a fission reactor. That doesn't seem so harmful. But consider our own experiences with mass production. The material requirements of our fission project are absurd even for this organization. Ten thousand square feet of lead plating eight inches thick. More protective clothing and surgical implements consumed each week than a major hospital. Storing everything exposed to the last containment breach is almost as difficult as operating the reactor itself!

How can this possibly be beyond our purview or our interest? Because containing the enrichment process will be hard? No harder, I think, than convincing the telescopes of the world not to look too closely at the Crab Nebula, nor getting divers to avoid that big fish off Tierra del Fuego. Fermi is expendable, Szilard and Leona Wood as well. That alone would buy us considerable time.

I believe this is the root of the matter: the team in Chicago has stung your pride, so now you sulk. Nobody in this organization can admit that they are doing something grander, and doing it faster, than our teams were able.

And so we talk about the sun. We talk about the periodic table and reproducibility. But we don't talk about the consequences of accepting this substance as a normal part of our world. That's because if transuranic mass production is a "normal" phenomenon, then what is about to happen won't be our fault.

But there is nothing normal about a one million percent increase in supply of the most dangerous thing in the world.

Once allowed to proliferate, Element 94 will be out of human hands. At that time we will no longer discuss containment, but survival.

Again I urge the Council to intervene. Element 94 is unlike any other Keter ever encountered, much less contained. And no arguments about physics or formulas change the fact that all the consequences of Fermi's work are our responsibility, and our choice.

Inaction is your prerogative - but Plutonium is not going back in the bottle.

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