The Manhattan Project

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

Harold Urey

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Harold Urey (1893-1981) was an American physical chemist and winner of the 1934 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Urey and his team at Columbia began working on uranium isotope separation in 1940, when he was also appointed chairman of an Advisory Committee on Nuclear Research. The next year, Urey became a member of The Uranium Committee and enjoyed broad responsibility over the research program's direction.

During the Manhattan Project, Urey directed the gaseous diffusion program at Columbia University, where chemists were trying to develop a suitable barrier for the gaseous diffusion plant being constructed in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. When the choice was made at Oak Ridge to prioritize the method of Electromagnetic Separation, Urey delegated responsibility to the laboratory's associate head, John Dunning, and devoted his attention to the control of nuclear energy rather than its application.

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