Gordon Fee is the retired president of Lockheed Martin Energy Systems and the former manager of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, TN. He began working at Oak Ridge at the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant in 1956. In this interview, he describes his career at Oak Ridge, and shares stories about his work at Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). In particular, he focuses on scientific developments connected with Oak Ridge, including the growth of the Nuclear Navy, the use of radioisotopes in medicine, and more.
Corporate Involvement in the Manhattan Project
Coors: I was born here in Golden, Colorado, and I can’t recall any particular fascination as a child that I had in science.
Kelly: How about who was your grandfather, and what was his business?
Coors: My grandfather was Adolph Coors, Sr. He had a small brewery in Golden, Colorado.
Kelly: Did your father work for your grandfather on the brewery? Was your father part of the business?
Coors: My father ran the business. He was in total charge.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is Thursday, April 26, 2018, and I’m in Knoxville, Tennessee with Sam Beall. First question for you is to say your full name and spell it.
Sam Beall: My full name is Samuel Erasmus Beall, B-e-a-l-l. Some people call “Beale,” we call “Bell.”
Kelly: Okay, great. So, Sam, tell me about yourself. When were you born and where?
Beall: It was in 1919, and I will be 99 in just about three weeks.
Kelly: Wow. Congratulations.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is Friday March 16, 2018. I’m in Washington, DC, and I have with me Martin Mandelberg. My first question for him is to please tell us your name and spell it.
Martin Mandelberg: Absolutely. My name is Martin Mandelberg. M-A-R-T-I-N. M-AN-D-E-L-B-E-R-G.
Kelly: That’s perfect. We would like to know, in a snapshot, an overview of who you are: when you born and where, and your education and career.
Dr. Martin Mandelberg is an engineer who is writing a biography on his doctoral advisor, Manhattan Project mathematician Richard Hamming. In this interview, Mandelberg discusses his work at General Dynamics, the Naval Underwater Sound Lab, SAIC, the Defense Department, and other jobs. He provides an overview of Hamming’s life and career, highlighting Hamming’s many important contributions to computing at Los Alamos and Bell Labs, and Hamming’s passion for solving big problems. Mandelberg also praises Hamming’s mentorship of his graduate students.
Robert S. Norris: By the late 30s, physicists, in Europe primarily, but some in America too, were making great discoveries about the atom. The key date here was January 1939, when European scientists had discovered fission. News of that was brought to the United States by Niels Bohr. Actually, it was brought to Washington, DC, at a conference at George Washington University.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and it is October 12, 2017. I’m in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I have with me John Ruminer. I’d like him to say his name and spell it.
John Ruminer: You got it just right. It’s John Ruminer – R-U-M-I-N-E-R.
Kelly: Terrific. John, why don’t you talk about where we are in Santa Fe, and a little bit about the history of this place?
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is October 27, 2017, in Washington, D.C., and I have with me Charles B. Yulish. I’m just going to start by asking him to say his name and spell it.
Charles Yulish: Okay. Charles. B. Yulish, Y as in yes, Y-U-L-I-S-H.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C., and it’s Monday, April 27, 2017. My first question today is to tell us your name and spell it.
Frank Settle: Okay. It’s Frank Settle, S-E-T-T-L-E.
Kelly: We’re here today to talk—at least start off talking, about this wonderful book that Frank has written, called General George C. Marshall and the Atomic Bomb. But first, I want him to tell us a little bit about himself, how he got interested in this, what he does for a living.
Lauren Attanas: My name is Lauren Attanas, that’s A-T-T-A-N-A-S. I am the granddaughter of John Attanas, who we are interviewing for the Atomic Heritage Foundation today. Can you say your name and spell it for the camera?
John Attanas: John George Attanas.
Lauren: Tell us the story of your origins. Where did your family come to the United States from?