Benjamin Bederson, a New York native, was selected to serve in the Special Engineering Detachment during the Manhattan Project. A physicist, he was first sent to Oak Ridge, and then to Los Alamos, where he worked for Donald Hornig on designing the ignition switches for the implosion bomb. At Los Alamos, he knew Ted Hall and David Greenglass, who were secretly sending atomic bomb secrets to the USSR. Bederson instructed the 509th Composite Group at Wendover and was sent to Tinian to help wire the switches for the bomb.
Oak Ridge, TN
Lawrence S. O’Rourke began working on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University after he was called up from the Army Reserves in 1944. O’Rourke was among the first group of SEDs who worked at Columbia, where he helped research and develop the gaseous diffusion process for the separation of uranium. After nine months, O’Rourke’s group moved from the Pupin Physics Lab to the Nash Garage Building, where they helped develop the barrier material that would be used at the K-25 plant in Oak Ridge.
[Many thanks to Jonathan Sheline for donating this recording to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Jonathan Sheline: This is February 6, 2009. I am interviewing Dad about his early life. Dad, tell me where you were born and what you remember about your first few homes growing up.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is Tuesday, November 27, 2018, and I have with me Martin Moeller. I’d like him to first say his name and spell it.
Martin Moeller: I’m Martin Moeller. M-A-R-T-I-N M-O-E-L-L-E-R.
Kelly: Great. So tell me: who are you? Why did we invite you here?
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Wednesday, April 25, 2018. I’m in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and I have with me Kevin Clarno. The first thing I want is for him to say his name and spell it.
Kevin Clarno: My name is Kevin Clarno, K-e-v-i-n C-l-a-r-n-o.
Kelly: Great. What I’d love to hear first is a little bit about yourself – about where you were born and your childhood and how you got interested in being a scientist.
Kevin Clarno is a group leader in reactor physics and a distinguished R&D staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He is also the former director of the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors at ORNL. In his interview, Clarno explains how he became interested in science and technology while growing up in Texas. He discusses his work with models that can forecast the longevity of nuclear reactors around the United States.
Nathaniel Weisenberg: My name is Nate Weisenberg. I am here with the Atomic Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. It is Tuesday, May 22, 2018, and I am here with Philip S. Anderson. My first question for you is if you could please tell me your name and spell it.
Philip S. Anderson: My name is Philip S. Anderson, P-h-i-l-i-p, middle initial S, A-n-d-e-r-s-o-n.
Weisenberg: Why don’t we sort of start at the beginning. Can you tell me when and where you were born?
Philip S. Anderson, Jr. lived in Oak Ridge from his second-grade year through his junior year of high school. His father, an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was responsible for housing at Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project; his mother was active in the Oak Ridge community. In this interview, Anderson remembers his childhood in Oak Ridge, describing the level of secrecy in the city and hikes with his friends. He also recounts his reaction to the bombing of Hiroshima and his fond memories of being a Boy Scout in Oak Ridge.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Wednesday, April 25, 2018. I have with me Tom Cormier. First question is please say your full name and spell it.
Thomas Cormier: Tom Cormier, C-o-r-m-i-e-r.
Kelly: Perfect. Okay, my first question to everybody has been to tell me a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, when you were born, your education and how you came to be a scientist.
Thomas Cormier is a nuclear physicist who leads the Large Hadron Collider Heavy Ion Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this interview, Cormier describes how he became interested in science at a young age. He then discusses his work at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, on experiments such as ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment). Cormier underscores the importance of such testing, explaining how it offers insight into the formation of our universe.