Barriers to Bioweapons: The challenges of expertise and organization for weapons development by Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley, published by Cornell University Press for $39.95.
Unmaking the Bomb: A fissile material approach to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation by Harold A. Feiveson, Alexander Glaser, Zia Mian and Frank N. von Hippel, published by MIT Press for $30/£20.95.
It is called Fogbank and it is a type of foam – toxic, explosive and highly flammable, and vital to the W76 nuclear warheads on Trident missiles. But the US government forgot how to make it.
Over the nine years to 2009, the US National Nuclear Security Administration spent $69 million trying to remember how. A previous plant had been dismantled, few records had been kept and staff had left. The wheel simply had to be reinvented.
The story of Fogbank, first reported in New Scientist in 2008, is highlighted by Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley as an example of how easy it is for organisations to forget things. When it comes to weapons of mass destruction, she suggests, this is an advantage, because it makes controlling their proliferation easier.