Owen Gingerich: Professor Roy Glauber is a physicist, a physicist who had an early start in physics because when he was still an undergraduate at Harvard, it was during World War II. A mysterious caller knocked on his dormitory door, and asked him if he would want to participate in some unspecified kind of scientific war work. He ended up going to Los Alamos as one of the youngest scientists in that scientific community working to make the atomic bomb. Of course there in Los Alamos, Robert Oppenheimer was the director.
Cold War Nuclear Tests
Lee DuBridge: So, yeah, we thought it was an exciting time to have the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission]. We knew, of course, that they were going ahead with the weapon development, but also they were going to support Brookhaven and other research centers around the country. So, no, I think those of us who were not imminently in the Manhattan District, but aware of it, were quite excited about getting in and finding out more about really what was going on and what the new possibilities were, both in physics and in weapon technology.
Martin Sherwin: Okay, this is the middle of an interview with Norris Bradbury.
Norris Bradbury: The fact that I wasn’t particularly involved in these discussions, of the type which the Federation of Atomic Scientists started—they started here, of course. I suppose I was committed to running a laboratory and trying to get people to stay here, while I was not uncommitted to international control of nuclear weapons, for heaven’s sakes. No one could be.
Martin Sherwin: I think the opportunity to talk to somebody who served with him on the Harvard—
Edward Purcell: Oh, Harvard, that was the thing. No, this episode I was remembering, which must have been the spring of 1953, when Oppie [J. Robert Oppenheimer] was on the Board of Overseers. At that time, we’d had some trouble in the Congressional investigations in our department. Particularly Wendell Furry, my colleague there, was under fire and had testified before the Jenner Committee or something like that.
Martin Sherwin: The work must have been sort of very frustrating for a while, before that [Stanislaus] Ulam-[Edward] Teller breakthrough [on the hydrogen bomb].
Ed Hammel: Well, sure. There was—
Sherwin: What were you doing at that time?
Hammel: At that point, I continued with having this group in charge of properties of plutonium. But one of the things that we were very interested in was the low temperature properties, the specific heat specifically, of plutonium.
Rhodes: Well, I had started to ask you about the Korean War. Was that a shock? Did that worry everyone and accelerate your sense of pressure?
Taylor: I don’t think so. I don’t remember any feeling of pressure, that we had to do something by a certain time or else all hell would break lose. All I remember was excitement and anticipation and eagerness to know the result of something I had worked on.
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.
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.