The Manhattan Project

In partnership with the National Museum of Nuclear Science & HistoryNational Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Columbia University

William Lanouette's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly from the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Friday, April 11, 2014, and I have with me William Lanouette who is going to be talking about Leo Szilard. Why don’t you start by actually saying your full name and spelling it? 

Bill Lanouette: I’m William Lanouette, L-A-N-O-U-E-T-T-E. 

Kelly: Tell us about Szilard. Who was he? What’s his background? 

William Lanouette

William Lanouette is the author of "Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb." Lanouette highlights Szilard’s contributions to the Manhattan Project, including his theoretical discovery of chain reaction and critical mass, along with his efforts to curb the use of nuclear weapons. He provides an overview of Szilard’s life and his scientific contributions in many fields. Lanouette explains that Szilard’s legacy is not well known due to the vast scope of his work and because his brilliance put him too far ahead of his time.

Herbert Anderson

Herbert Anderson was completing his graduate studies in physics in 1939 at Columbia University when he began a close scientific and personal asso­ciation with Enrico Fermi that was to continue until Fermi's death in 1954. Anderson assisted Fermi in early research on nuclear fission, including Fermi's direction of the first chain reaction. Anderson himself early in 1939 at Columbia, performed the experiment which resulted in the first observa­tion of fission in the United States.

William E. Tewes

William E. Tewes worked on the gaseous diffusion process at the Nash Garage Building under Dr. Francis Slack, testing the barrier material. He recalls the Nazi invasion of Poland and how the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the country together. In July 1945 Tewes was transferred from New York, where he was working on gaseous diffusion, to Oak Ridge. He worked on the leak testing operation at K-25.

John Shacter

 

 

John Shacter was born in Austria and immigrated to the United States after Hitler came to power in Germany. He first worked on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University, then was transferred to the K-25 Plant in Oak Ridge in 1943. He explains how the innovative design of the uranium enrichment process facilitated the design and construction of nuclear reactors around the country. He recalls the urgency the workers felt to beat Nazi Germany in making an atomic bomb.

Lawrence S. O'Rourke's Interview

Cindy Kelly: This is Cindy Kelly at Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is March 20, 2013 in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. And we are delighted to have Larry O’Rourke. His first question is to tell us your name and spell it, please.

Lawrence S. O’Rourke: I am Lawrence S. O’Rourke, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E S-for Stephen O’Rourke, O-’-R-O-U-R-K-E.  And, I like to be known as Larry. 

Kelly: Perfect, Larry. Please tell us your birthdate and where you were born.

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