The Manhattan Project

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

Los Alamos, NM

Robert R. Wilson's Interview

Owen Gingerich: This is an interview between Owen Gingerich and Robert Wilson. You use your middle initial. It’s Robert R.?

Robert Wilson: Yes, usually.

Gingerich: Robert R. Wilson, who is a builder of high energy accelerators and who was one of the physicists at Los Alamos. We are speaking today in Philadelphia, where we both happen to be for the American Philosophical Society. It’s April 22. No, it’s Shakespeare’s birthday. It’s April 23. That’s the documentation for the day.

Robert R. Wilson

Robert R. Wilson was an American physicist. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where he first met Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer recruited Wilson and his entire group at Princeton to work on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos on the cyclotron. After arriving at Los Alamos in 1944, Wilson became head of the Research Division. After the war, he became one of the few scientists to speak out against the bomb, and he helped organize the Association of Los Alamos Scientists (ALAS), which called for the international control of atomic energy.

Marvin Wilkening's Interview (1995)

[Many thanks to Thomas Scanlan for recording and donating this interview to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Thomas Scanlan: —Is part of an interview, which I held with Professor Marvin Wilkening at his home on Socorro, New Mexico on July 15, 1995. 

Now, I was reading that you had worked at four different places associated with the Manhattan Project.

Marvin Wilkening: That’s right.

Scanlan: Was your first work with [Enrico] Fermi at Chicago?

Roy Glauber's Interview

Owen Gingerich: Professor Roy Glauber is a physicist, a physicist who had an early start in physics because when he was still an undergraduate at Harvard, it was during World War II. A mysterious caller knocked on his dormitory door, and asked him if he would want to participate in some unspecified kind of scientific war work. He ended up going to Los Alamos as one of the youngest scientists in that scientific community working to make the atomic bomb. Of course there in Los Alamos, Robert Oppenheimer was the director.

Norris Bradbury's Interview - Part 2

Martin Sherwin: Okay, this is the middle of an interview with Norris Bradbury.

Norris Bradbury: The fact that I wasn’t particularly involved in these discussions, of the type which the Federation of Atomic Scientists started—they started here, of course. I suppose I was committed to running a laboratory and trying to get people to stay here, while I was not uncommitted to international control of nuclear weapons, for heaven’s sakes. No one could be.

Louis Hempelmann's Interview - Part 2

Louis Hempelmann: He [J. Robert Oppenheimer] just told me what the situation was. He did not ask me, which is the same thing when he got sick because I was in the radiology department here and I knew something about it. He would call me up, tell me what he had done, and then say “What do you think of it?” By that time, the only thing I could say was, “That was fine.”

Jean Bacher's Interview

Jean Bacher: Ruth Valentine said, “I shall take Ruth [Tolman]’s desk.” She always saved letters. She had marvelous long letters from Robert, you know, especially at the time of the hearings. I knew they were just terribly close and shared a great deal. On the drawer of the desk, she’d said, “Destroy these.”

Martin Sherwin: You saw it happen? 

Bacher: I didn’t see her burn it, because at that time we still burned and they just threw them out in the burner in the back yard.

Jean Bacher

Jean Dow Bacher was born in 1907, and grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She married fellow Ann Arbor native and leading Manhattan Project scientist Robert Bacher in 1930. Jean was a “computer” at Los Alamos during the Project. In this interview, she describes the friendship her and her husband shared with the Oppenheimers, and their interactions with other scientists and their families at Los Alamos.

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