TRISTAN CHAMBERS – Handmade Computer Counts Down the Half-Life of P-239

by Red Cell

From Tristan Chambers’ webpage:

“Zevin and I made a piece for a show at The Santa Fe Complex. After much deliberation we decided to create a hand made, super slow computer. We built it out of parts from the Los Alamos Labs junk yard, and decided the computer should do something related to the trinity site test. It counts down the half life of P-239, the plutonium used in the core of the first nuclear bomb. It was estimated that approximately 11lb of the stuff went unfissed and was disbursed into the atmosphere by the explosion. We have lived with this radioactive material in our atmosphere ever since. Our piece bears witness to this fact by counting down the half life, a duration that no present computer is durable enough to extend. The extreme duration (24 thousand years) is emphasized by the use of mechanical relays, who’s contacts will surely decay before then.

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