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My Dad and the Development of RDX

August 24, 2010

I have always known that my father, Ken, was involved with weapons research during World War II.  He studied explosives at the University of Toronto.  What I have now learned is that he delved into a most arcane field, the area of study that culminated with the invention of RDX, the main component of plastic explosives.  C-3, C-4, and Semtex all contain RDX as their base ingredient.

1) Formal portrait in the 1940s, by Irving Chidnoff

My father was a gentle soul and I can imagine he may have harbored regrets about his work.  During the war the research was relocated to Perry Sound, Ontario, where he and his peers investigated the uses of RDX and what compounds might be created to increase the force of its explosive power.  Plastique is used today in land mines and other devices that are a world-wide scourge.

Perhaps his love of travel evolved from his war-era pursuits, as if he were making up to the world and to himself for the terrible damage wrought by his creations.   He loved to share, with all who cared to listen and to see, his passion for photography, far-away cultures, and spectacular landscapes. Fortunately his life partner, my mother, Peggy, followed the same path.

2) My parents, years later in Antarctica with penguin friends and the Lindblad Explorer: photographer unknown

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