Louis Alexander Slotin (1 December 1910 – 30 May 1946) was a Canadian physicist and chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project. During World War II, Slotin conducted research at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He performed experiments with uranium and plutonium cores to determine their critical mass values. On 21 May 1946, Slotin was conducting a demonstration when he accidentally initiated a fission reaction, which released a burst of hard radiation. He received a lethal dose of radiation and died of acute radiation syndrome nine days later. Slotin was the second person to die from a criticality accident, following the death of Harry Daghlian, who had been exposed to radiation by the same core that killed Slotin. Slotin was publicly hailed as a hero by the United States government for reacting quickly and preventing his accident from killing any colleagues. He was later criticized for failing to follow protocol during the experiment.
Others were injured and may have died from nuclear related exposure some years later. With the end of World War II, the work to build additional nuclear devices was less urgent, and the accident halted work for a while until increased safety protocols were implemented at Los Alamos. The incident and its aftermath have been dramatized in several fictional and non-fiction accounts.
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