Roslyn D. Robinson worked as a driver and in the administration office for the Chicago Met Lab. Her husband, Sidney, was an engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project. In this interview, she talks about her early life, as well as her duties in Chicago and the omnipresent emphasis on secrecy. She recalls her husband’s hospitalization and quarantine after a mysterious “spill” in his laboratory at the New Chem Building.
Chicago Met Lab
Alice Kimball Smith was an American historian and educator. She and her husband Cyril Smith, a British metallurgist, moved to Los Alamos in 1943 after Cyril joined the Manhattan Project. Alice became a schoolteacher at Los Alamos. While on "the Hill," she and her husband became friendly with J. Robert Oppenheimer and his wife Kitty. Kimball Smith also encountered numerous other scientific luminaries, including Niels Bohr.
John W. Marden was deputy research director at the Westinghouse Electric Corporation Lamp Plant in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Working with Harvey C. Rentschler, the plant's director of research, Marden developed a reliable process for producing pure uranium metal. In 1942, Westinghouse was contracted by the University of Chicago Met Lab to produce uranium. The company successfully provided more than three tons of uranium for Chicago Pile-1, and supplied approximately 69 tons of uranium for the Manhattan Project.
Arthur Compton (1892-1962) was an American physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics.
A top administrator and advisor during the Manhattan Project, Compton played a key role in the making of the atomic bomb. He headed a National Academy of Sciences committee, whose members included Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard, and Eugene Wigner, that examined the potential use of atomic energy for military purposes -- research that was already going on at the University of Chicago.
Ed Wood: January 21, 1954 will go down as a significant day in human history. A milestone in man’s scientific progress. For on that day, at Groton, Connecticut, was launched the first nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus, powered by the world’s first atomic engine designed to do useful work. With this achievement, man at last has seen the dawn of the age of atomic power.
Stephane Groueff: Dr. Raymond Grills, DuPont, Wilmington.
Dr. Raymond Grills was a DuPont physical chemist who worked at Chicago and later at Hanford during the Manhattan Project. While at Hanford, he was one of two men who invented the canning process that sealed uranium slugs for use in Hanford’s water-cooled nuclear reactors. In this interview, he describes the challenges and pressures he and his colleagues had to overcome, and explains why the canning had to be designed perfectly. He also describes humorous encounters with a machinist and a railroad porter while transporting uranium slugs.
General Kenneth Nichols: —found we did not have the authority to satisfy DuPont.
Stephane Groueff: But why did DuPont challenge your authority?
Nichols: Because they had trouble, in World War I, being called munitions makers and investigated after World War I, so they are more conservative than most companies. And they wanted to have in their files copies of our authorities. And what we had, which I have shown you, and that is satisfactory to them.
Groueff: I see.
Isabella Karle: Isabella Karle. I-S-A-B-E-L-L-A K-A-R-L-E
Cindy Kelly: Terrific. Could you tell us how you happened to become part of the Manhattan Project?
Jerome Karle: My name is Jerome Karle. And it is J-E-R-O-M-E K-A-R-L-E.
Cindy Kelly: Great. Dr. Karle, can you tell me about what you were doing in the early 1940s and how you happened to become part of the Manhattan Project?
Karle: Well, I had just finished my work in 1943, for my graduation on my degree.
Isabella Karle: Your PhD.