The Manhattan Project

Oak Ridge, TN

Justin Baba's Interview

Cindy Kelly:   I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Wednesday, April 25, 2018. I am in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and I have with me Justin Baba. My first question for Justin is to please state your full name and spell it.

Justin Baba: Justin Shekwoga Baba. That is J-u-s-t-i-n, Shekwoga is S-h-e-k-w-o-g-a, and Baba is B-a-b-a.

Kelly: Thank you, Justin. My first question is to tell us something about yourself. Where were you born and how did you get interested in becoming a scientist?

Shigeko Uppuluri's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is Thursday, April 26, 2018. I have with me in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Shigeko Uppuluri. And my first question for her is to say her name and spell it.

Shigeko Uppuluri: Okay. My name is Shigeko Uppuluri, and I was born in Kyoto in Japan.

Kelly: Don’t forget to spell your name.

Uppuluri: Oh, S-h-i-g-e-k-o, and Uppuluri is an interesting name. U-p-p-u-l-u-r-i.

Kelly: Wonderful. All right. So now continue. Tell us where you were born and when.

Benjamin Bederson

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.

Lawrence S. O'Rourke

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.

Zane Bell's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I'm Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Wednesday, April 25, 2018. I am in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, with Zane Bell. My first question to you is to say your full name and spell it.

Zane Bell: Zane Bell. Zulu, Alpha, November, Echo,  Bravo, Echo, Lima, Lima.

Kelly: Okay, good. First, I want to know something about you and your childhood—where you are from, and how you got to be interested in science.

Zane Bell

Zane Bell is a senior scientist and physicist who works in radiation detection and scintillator development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Raymond Sheline's Lecture

[Many thanks to Jonathan Sheline for donating this video to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Raymond Sheline: This talk today gives me a certain amount of anxiety, because it’s different than any other chemistry talk I’ve ever given. First of all, it’s kind of autobiographical, and that’s always a little embarrassing. Secondly, it’s maybe more nearly the history of science than science itself. However, it is appropriate, because we’re just fifty years since the testing and dropping of the atom bomb in 1945.

Raymond Sheline

Raymond Sheline was a chemist at Columbia University and a member of the Special Engineer Detachment at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos.

Sheline received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1949 and was a professor at Florida State University for 48 years. Among other accomplishments, he helped establish a nuclear chemistry lab at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and published more than 400 scientific papers. He died on February 10, 2016 in Fort Meyers, FL.

David Holcomb's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. I have with me David Holcomb. First question for David is to say his name and spell it.

David Holcomb: My name’s David Holcomb, D-a-v-i-d H-o-l-c-o-m-b.

Kelly: Terrific. Now, I want to know something about yourself—where you’re from, when you were born, and then what sparked your interest in science.

David Holcomb

David Holcomb is nuclear engineer who specializes in instrumentation and controls for the molten salt reactors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this interview, Holcomb discusses his background as a scientist, and recalls his interaction with other great minds that worked at Oak Ridge. He explains the differences between molten salt reactors and traditional light-water reactors, and advocates for increased usage of the molten salt reactors in the future.


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