Darragh Nagle: Well, you must realize you’re talking to the people who were very, very junior at the time of the Manhattan Project. We’re mostly the ones that are left, but by that same token we were not privy to the high council—what was going on.
Darragh Nagle graduated from Columbia University and worked with Enrico Fermi and Herbert Anderson at the Chicago Pile during the early years of the Manhattan Project. Nagle then transferred to Los Alamos, where he joined the Omega Team and conducted criticality experiments. Nagle was also responsible for collecting soil samples after the atomic bomb test at the Trinity Site.
Theresa Strottman: We are talking with Harold Agnew who has worked here [at Los Alamos] during the Manhattan Project and later was Lab Director. And we thank you very much for coming today. Our first question is if you could briefly tell us when and where you were born and something about your education and training.
Harold Agnew worked on the Manhattan Project at various locations and served as the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1970-1979.
George Cowan: It's weighted so heavily in favor—not in favor of—but the emphasis on number one Los Alamos, and then Oak Ridge, and then Hanford, as the three secret cities or something. But the fact is the Met Lab at Chicago was enormously important. The Stagg Field reactor was historic in ’42, and its sort of dismissed.
George Cowan joined the Manhattan Project in 1942 at the Met Lab as a chemist for Enrico Fermi’s group. He also worked for Columbia University and the Uranium Corporation of America in Manhattan. Cowan describes his experience working with famous scientists, such as Chien-Shiung Wu and Eugene Wigner, and gives a detailed account of his role in Operation Crossroads, the first military test of the atomic bomb against Navy ships.
Donald Trauger: Yes, I’m Donald Trauger. And Trauger is T-R-A-U-G-E-R, Trauger. My mother-in-law when we first married would say auger, Trauger so she could remember it. [Laughter.]
Kelly: All right. Well, tell us how you came to Oak Ridge and how—what you did as your role in the Manhattan Project; where you were from and how you got involved.
Donald Trauger became involved in the Manhattan Project at Columbia University, working on the gaseous diffusion process. He discusses the science of isotope separation and also the decision to use the atomic bomb.
Located at 3280 Broadway, the Nash Garage Building was originally an automobile dealership which was purchased by Columbia University and converted into a pilot plant to create the barrier material for Oak Ridge, TN’s K-25 gaseous diffusion plant.