The Manhattan Project

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

Oral Histories

Philip S Anderson, Jr.'s Interview

Philip S. Anderson, Jr.'s Interview

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.

Richard McCardell's Interview

Richard McCardell's Interview

Richard McCardell was a nuclear engineer at the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho. In this interview, McCardell explains the path he took towards his involvement in the Special Power Excursion Reactor Test, or “SPERT,” which was a series of reactor tests in Idaho Falls.

Gayleen Meservey's Interview

Gayleen Meservey's Interview

Gayleen Meservey grew up in Idaho Falls, and worked at the National Reactor Testing Station. She describes the bus rides to and from the laboratory, which often involved card games and occasionally getting stuck in the snow. She discusses the positive relationship between the laboratory and the town, and how the influx of scientists transformed the town and the state. She also explains the incredible change in computers from the 1960s through the early 2000s, and what it was like to work on early computers.

Bill Ginkel's Interview

Bill Ginkel's Interview

Bill Ginkel served as the Manager of the Idaho Operations Office for the Atomic Energy Commission. In this interview, he describes his experience working at the facility beginning in 1950. He recalls the pioneering work conducted at the laboratory and the occasional methodological divide between the scientists and engineers. He also explains the transformative effects the influx of nuclear scientists had upon the local community and the state, and why the area was referred to as “The Site.”

Richard Meservey Final Cut

Richard Meservey's Interview

Richard “Dick” Meservey is a nuclear physicist who worked at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). In this interview, he describes the rewarding projects he worked on at INL including the Special Power Excursion Reactor Test and the Advanced Test Reactor. He lauds the unusual freedom that scientists enjoyed working in Idaho Falls, and explains why he came to love living in Idaho Falls.

Kathy McCarthy's Interview

Kathy McCarthy's Interview

Kathy McCarthy served as the Director of Nuclear Science and Engineering responsible for research in the area of advanced nuclear energy at Idaho National Laboratory. In this interview, she discusses the role of nuclear power in establishing secure sources of energy as well as the challenges of promoting nuclear power as safe and environmentally beneficial. She also explains the evolving technologies of nuclear reactors, and how the U.S. compares to other countries in terms of nuclear power development.

Thomas Cormier's Interview

Thomas Cormier's Interview

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. He concludes by describing future plans for the construction of even larger particle accelerators and the scientific and societal challenges involved in undertaking such endeavors.

TJ Paulus's Interview

TJ Paulus's Interview

TJ Paulus is an electrical engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this interview, he discusses how he first became interested in science as a child. Paulus describes research he has conducted over the course of his career in nuclear instrumentation and electronics, including on nuclear reactor reflood studies and positron imaging for medical purposes.

Eric Pierce Final Cut

Eric Pierce's Interview

Eric Pierce is a senior scientist and leader of the Earth Sciences Group in the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Born in New Orleans, Pierce has a Ph.D in low-temperature geochemistry from Tulane University. In this interview, Pierce describes some of the work of his team at Oak Ridge, including how contaminants and energy production byproducts such as mercury move through the environment. He provides an overview of the important mercury research and discoveries scientists have made at ORNL, and speaks to the collaborative and dynamic nature of ORNL as a workplace.

CJ Mitchell's Interview

CJ Mitchell's Interview

CJ Mitchell grew up in northeastern Texas. In this interview, he describes moving to Hanford after graduating from high school in 1947. Only sixteen years old, Mitchell took a job working on the trailer park in North Richland, and worked on other construction projects. At first, he lived in a tent with his relatives in East Pasco. He eventually studied at Columbia Basin College and got a job at one of General Electric’s Hanford laboratories as an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) specialist. He describes the racism he encountered in the Tri-Cities area and how segregation and the Great Migration impacted him and his family. Mitchell, an avid sports enthusiast and coach, was also famous in the Northwest for his work as a sports official.

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