Walter Henry Zinn

Walter Henry Zinn (December 14,1906, Kitchener, Ontario - February 14, 2000, Clearwater, Florida) was a nuclear physicist at the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory.

Life and work

Zinn worked on the Manhattan Project, and is credited with starting the world’s first self-sustaining nuclear reaction by withdrawing a control rod from the world’s first nuclear reactor on December 2, 1942 at the University of Chicago.

Born in Canada, Zinn graduated from Queen’s University with a mathematics degree, and went on to do his Ph.D. in nuclear physics at Columbia University. He graduated in 1934.

After his work on the Manhattan Project, he became the director of the Argonne National Laboratory from 1946-1956. He developed and built several new reactor designs, including the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I - the first nuclear reactor to produce electric power on December 20, 1951.

Zinn received multiple awards for his work, including a special commendation from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (1956), the Atoms for Peace Award (1960) and the Enrico Fermi Award in 1969.

Walter H. Zinn Award

The American Nuclear Society (ANS), Operations and Power Division, annually awards their "Walter H. Zinn Award" to recognize the contribution of an individual "for a notable and sustained contribution to the nuclear power industry that has not been widely recognized." Zinn was the first president of the ANS.


Further reading

External links

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