David Fox’s father, Dr. Marvin Fox, studied physics at Columbia University under Isidor Rabi and Harold Urey. Marvin Fox worked at the Radiation Laboratory at MIT and at Columbia during the Manhattan Project. After the war, he served as Chairman of the Reactor Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he helped build the first reactor dedicated to peaceful uses of atomic energy. In this interview, David Fox describes his father’s work at Brookhaven, idealism about technology, and how the onset of the Cold War affected him.
[We would like to thank Robert S. Norris, author of the definitive biography of General Leslie R. Groves, Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project's Indispensable Man, for taking the time to read over these transcripts for misspellings and other errors.]
General Leslie R. Groves: All right now what else is there?
Groueff: General Nichols, Part 2.
Nichols: But Dobie [Percival Keith] came back immediately, or shortly thereafter, with the suggestion we build more gaseous diffusion base plants, and that was why we built the K-27 plant.
Groueff: A base?
Alfred Nier: By the summer of 1943, the question came up, what I should do next? And I had a chance to – [J. Robert] Oppenheimer had gotten a hold of me and suggested I might come out to Los Alamos.
Stephane Groueff: And you knew him?
Ralph Gates is a chemical and electrical engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project as a part of the Special Engineer Detachment. His primary job was casting shape charges for the plutonium bombs.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and it’s Friday, May 15, 2015, and I’m in Middlebury, Vermont, with Irwin P. Sharpe. And, my first question for him is to tell us your name and spell it.
Irwin Sharpe: Oh, I know that. Okay. It’s Irwin, I-r-w-i-n, initial P, Sharpe, S-h-a-r-p-e.
Irwin P. Sharpe was born in 1921. He was recruited for the Manhattan Project by his employer, General Electric, after he graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in engineering in 1942. His work took place in the Woolworth Building in Manhattan, where he played a key role in developing pumps and seals to transport gas and oil.
*[Please note that General Groves - Part 10 could not be found in the Groueff Collection. The interview was either mislabeled, misplaced, or does not exist.]
Clare Whitehead joind the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in 1943. After training in the Manhattan Engineer District and working in Oak Ridge, she was recruited to be the "secretary safeguarding military information" at Hanford. She met her husband, Vincent "Bud" Whitehead in 1944 while they were both serving at Hanford.
Stephane Groueff: Yes, Dr. Manley, from the beginning. Then I’ll start asking questions.
John Manley: Alright, fine. I guess the first relevant business is the fact that I went to Columbia in ‘34. I was sort of on the fringe. I worked mostly with [Isidor] Rabi for the first couple of years.
Groueff: You are a chemist?
Manley: No, I’m a physicist.