The Manhattan Project

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

Los Alamos, NM

Louis Hempelmann's Interview - Part 4

Louis Hempelmann:  I do not think the people who came later were ever as close as the people who were there at the beginning.

Martin Sherwin: Did most of the people who came later, were they junior people? That is, younger? [Enrico] Fermi came later.

Hempelmann: [George] Kistiakowsky came later.

Sherwin: He did? When you say “earlier” and “later,” what dates are you talking about?

John Manley's Interview (1985) - Part 1

Martin Sherwin: Good afternoon, this is an interview with John Manley at the Red Onion restaurant, January 9th, 1985, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

John Manley: —whether you want to start that yet or not? I’m not at all sure in what way I can help you.

Sherwin: Well, I would like to write a book. [Laughter]

Manley: I would like somebody else to write a book with information I could supply.

Louis Hempelmann's Interview - Part 3

Martin Sherwin: What was the set-up at Los Alamos, in terms of your relationship to the director [J. Robert Oppenheimer] and how you operated?

Louis Hempelmann:  I was working directly under him. I started out with my wife as a half-time secretary, and the technician I brought with me from St. Louis, and Kitty worked for me.

Sherwin: What did Kitty do for you?

Hempelmann: Did blood counts.

Sherwin: Was she a good technician?

Elsie McMillan

Elsie McMillan was the wife of Nobel Prize winner Edwin McMillan and sister-in-law of another Nobel Prize winner, Ernest Lawrence. She came to Los Alamos in 1943 with Edwin and their baby Ann. In her speech, she take the audience on an imaginary tour of Los Alamos, complete with detailed descriptions of various buildings and their home, today known as the Hans Bethe House. Her speech characterizes what civilian life was like at Los Alamos for the wives of many scientists, including the challenges of shopping with ration cards and dealing with the tight security.

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.

Edwin McMillan

Edwin and Elsie McMillan were among the first people to arrive at Los Alamos. Edwin, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was involved in the initial selection of Los Alamos. In this lecture, Edwin describes visiting Jemez Springs and Los Alamos when he, Oppenheimer, and General Groves were deciding on the site for the weapons laboratory. McMillan also discusses his involvement in the implosion research, the gun program, and recruiting scientists including Richard Feynman to the project. 

Geoffrey Chew's Interview

Cindy Kelly: Okay, I am Cindy Kelly. This is Tuesday, August 9, 2016 in Berkeley, California. I have with me Dr. Geoffrey Chew. My first question to him is to say and spell his name.

Geoffrey Chew: Geoffrey Chew, G-E-O-F-F-R-E-Y C-H-E-W.

Kelly: Very good, so now we will move on to some harder stuff. If you could tell us when you were born and where, and a little bit about your own childhood.

Geoffrey Chew

Geoffrey Chew was an undergraduate studying physics at George Washington University when he assisted Washington Post journalist (and future children’s novelist) Jean Craighead in writing an article on atomic weapons. His professor, George Gamow, recommended that Chew join Edward Teller’s team at Los Alamos. At Los Alamos, Chew witnessed the Trinity Test from a nearby mountain and worked on Teller’s ideas for developing the hydrogen bomb. In graduate school, Chew was supervised by Enrico Fermi.

Robert Bacher's Interview - Part 2

Robert Bacher: I presented this [the discovery of the neutron] in the seminar and there were a good many questions. Some people were skeptical. I convinced Ed Condon almost immediately. In fact, within the week we had written a note together on the spin of the neutron because you could work it out. This part of it fit into the things of nuclear spins, hyperfine structure, nuclear moments, and so on. A good many other people came around to it. I think more than half the people were convinced at that time.

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