Siegfried Hecker: Okay, I was just—a little bit more on the testing business. Again, I will not give you much because eventually, I am sure you will do all the research on this. There are some interesting dynamics in the testing business all the way around, because it is such an emotional issue. So hard drawn on both sides, almost a little bit like abortion. You just cannot seem to bring people together. They are either in one camp or in the other.
Cold War Nuclear Tests
Richard Rhodes: Although again, I was struck in Russia with how different a world that was.
Ted Taylor: Oh, yeah.
Rhodes: How much more closely they were—
Taylor: That is why I am so thankful because in many other places people get shot.
Rhodes: Yeah. We could not even get directions on the street. Nobody wanted to talk to foreigners. Even now, partly, I am sure.
Taylor: Some of that is habit, I think.
[Many thanks to Claude Lyneis for donating this footage to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Narrator: About seventy-five miles northwest of Walla Walla, Washington, in an isolated expanse of open desert, civilization entered into a new age, an age from which it would never emerge the same. Here, in the home of the Wanapum Indians, the terrain is mostly scrubland, laced here and there by cheatgrass, greasewood, and Russian thistle.
Ernest Tremmel: I'm Ernie Tremmel.
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin in civil engineering, and I went to work for the Corps of Engineers in St. Louis. One of my bosses was a Captain Powell who, after I was in St. Louis two years, got transferred to a secret project he was going to work on called the Manhattan Project Corps of Engineers.
Hans Bethe: The other was M - A - D, MAD [Mutually Assured Destruction], which essentially says that nuclear weapons make sense only as a safeguard against nuclear weapons. As [Wolfgang] Panofsky has said recently, and there is actually an article by him, "It is not a doctrine. It is a fact of life. Nothing else is possible, whatever you might wish.” So I think you should not present it as something really unavoidable, without any movements in the opposite direction.
Martin Sherwin: This morning I am making arrangements to interview Norris Bradbury in Los Alamos, New Mexico. January 10, 1985.
How would you characterize the major problems that [J. Robert] Oppenheimer had when he first got the job as the administrator for Los Alamos? Or at least, when you came on?
Ralph Lapp: I am Ralph Lapp, L-A-P-P. I am a physicist, nuclear physicist, an author, and a consultant. I have engaged in finance and technology.
Interviewer: Great. What can you tell us about your role in the Manhattan Project?
Siegfried Hecker: The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings [Act] brings back memories.
Richard Rhodes: No, exactly.
Martin Sherwin: This is an interview with Hans Bethe in his office at Newman Hall, Cornell University, May 5, 1982. This is Martin Sherwin.
Sherwin: I’m glad I caught this. Basically, you were surprised that Kyoto had been selected and at these meetings, that the Target Committee had been held in the Oppenheimer’s office.
Richard Rhodes: You said [Richard] Courant’s work added realism?
Ted Taylor: Yeah.
Rhodes: How so?
Taylor: By going over various tricks for dealing with the discontinuities, the singularities in the hydrodynamics. I had the impression that he was very helpful to people like Bob Richtmyer. I don’t know that Richard himself came up with anything all new and different, I don’t know. But he was very articulate and active.