The Manhattan Project

Race for the Atomic Bomb

Jim Sanborn's Interview

Kelly: Today is Friday, February 3rd, 2017. I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’m here in an installation called “Atomic Time” with its creator, the sculptor and artist Jim Sanborn. My first question to Sanborn is to please say his name and spell it. 

Sanborn:  All right. I’m Jim Sanborn, S-A-N-B-O-R-N. I’m the maker of this installation that I began sometime in 1998 and concluded in 2004, although I added pieces over the years, added more stuff over the years.

Jim Sanborn

Jim Sanborn is an American sculptor known for works such as “Kryptos” at the CIA Headquarters in McLean, VA.

In this interview, Sanborn discusses his exhibit “Atomic Time,” which is now on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, NM. The installation recreates the Manhattan Project scientists’ experiments at Los Alamos to determine when plutonium would go “critical” in an atomic bomb. Sanborn explains why he decided to do the project, and how he carefully created each piece of the exhibit.

Jim Smith's Interview

Cindy Kelly: Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly. It’s Monday, February 6, 2017, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I have James L. Smith. My first question to him is to say his full name and spell it.

Jim Smith: James Lawrence Smith, J-A-M-E-S L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E S-M-I-T-H.

Kelly: Great. Thank you. Why don’t you begin by just telling us a little bit about yourself? What your background is, what you studied and so forth, where you were born, in a nutshell.

Bruce Cameron Reed's Interview

Cindy Kelly:​ This is Monday, January 30th, 2017. I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. We are in Washington, D.C., with Bruce Cameron Reed. If you could say your name for us and spell it.

Bruce Cameron Reed: Bruce Cameron Reed, B-R-U-C-E  C-A-M-E-R-O-N  R-E-E-D.

Kelly:​ Great. Bruce, tell us about yourself. I know you’re a professor at Alma College, but maybe you could start at the beginning—when and where you were born and how you got interested in science.

Bruce Cameron Reed

Bruce Cameron Reed is a physicist and a professor at Alma College. In this interview, he discusses a course he teaches at Alma about nuclear weapons and the Manhattan Project. He explains how he became interested in the physics and history of the Manhattan Project. He provides an overview of some of the challenges the Manhattan Project scientists faced and why uranium, plutonium, and polonium are so difficult to work with.

Edwin McMillan's Lecture

Edwin McMillan: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start with two remarks. First, this is going to be a personal story, so if I use the first person singular, this is not pure egotism, it is simply the fact that that’s the part that I know best. Second remark is, the difficulty of establishing facts at such a late date, even of important things. During the Manhattan Project, of course, there was security impressed upon everyone, so very few people kept any notes.

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