The Manhattan Project

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

Arthur H. Compton

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Arthur Compton (1892-1962) was an American physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics.

A top administrator and advisor during the Manhattan Project, Compton played a key role in the making of the atomic bomb. He headed a National Academy of Sciences committee, whose members included Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard, and Eugene Wigner, that examined the potential use of atomic energy for military purposes -- research that was already going on at the University of Chicago.

From 1942 to 1945, Compton was project director of the Chicago Met Lab, an important university outpost of Manhattan Project research and development where Chicago Pile-1, the first controlled, self-sustained nuclear chain reaction, took place. The Met Lab supported the development, construction, and operation of the reactors at Hanford and the enrichment activities at Oak Ridge.

In 1945, he served on the Scientific Panel of the Interim Committee that recommended military use of the atomic bomb against Japan.