Often overlooked, British physicists were the first to realize the feasibility of an atomic bomb and their urgings were vital to the development and success of the Manhattan Project in the United States.
Gerhart Friedlander: My name is Gerhart Friedlander.
Interviewer: What was your role in the Manhattan Project?
Friedlander: I got into the Manhattan Project very early; in fact, before there was an official Manhattan Project. I was a graduate student at Berkeley at the University of California. My thesis advisor was Glenn Seaborg, who later on got a Nobel Prize and became chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, but at that time he was just a new instructor and I was his first graduate student.
Cindy Kelly: My name is Cindy Kelly with the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is January 8, 2016, and I am in New York City with Peter Lax. My first question for him is to say his name and spell it.
Peter Lax: Peter Lax, spelled L-A-X.
Kelly: Great, thank you. So I would love to have you talk, just a little bit anyway, about your childhood and your parents.
Martin Sherwin: This is Martin Sherwin. I'll be interviewing Sir Rudolf Peierls at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Today's date is June 6th, 1979.
You first met [J.Robert] Oppenheimer in Zurich in 1929?
Rudolf Peierls: Right, yes.
Sherwin: At that time, I think you mentioned you were working with [Wolfgang] Pauli's group?
Sherwin: Who else was there in that group?
Martin Sherwin: This is Martin Sherwin. I am on my way to interview Professor Robert Christy in his office at 423 Downs on the Caltech Campus in Pasadena, California, March 30th, 1983.
You were a student of his?
Robert Christy: I was a graduate student of [J. Robert] Oppenheimer’s from the fall of 1937 until the spring of 1941 when I got my degree, my PhD degree in theoretical physics in Berkeley.
Sherwin: What did you do your dissertation on?
Cindy Kelly: I'm Cindy Kelly. This is Wednesday, June 24th, 2015, and I'm in Cambridge Massachusetts with Peter Gailson. My first question for you is to tell me your name and spell it.
Peter Galison: My name is Peter Gailson, G-A-L-I-S-O-N. I'm a professor here at Harvard, Physics, a history of science.
Stephane Groueff: One thing I don’t understand, and it’s a very ignorant question, but what was actually the difference between [Enrico] Fermi’s experiment in ’34 and [Otto] Hahn’s? Because, why do we say that Hahn was the first one, while Fermi also bombarded uranium?
Lew Kowarski: I don’t it’s true to say that Hahn was the first one.
Groueff: It’s not true.
Kowarski: I think it’s one of those simplifications—there are people who find them all right. I don’t.
Rosen: Well, my name is Louis Rosen. I was born in New York City, not the best part of the city. I’m now almost eighty-five years old. My parents were immigrants from Poland. They were escaping from the pogroms, which were taking place with the Russian Cossacks coming in and raiding villages, especially where Jews where plentiful. My father came over here in about 1909. My mother—they were girl and boyfriends in the old country—came over two years later.
Louis Rosen, a native New Yorker and the son of Polish immigrants, was personally selected to work on the Manhattan project in Los Alamos while a graduate student in physics. Once in Los Alamos, Rosen was assigned to Edwin McMillan’s group, where he worked on implosion technology. Rosen remained in Los Alamos after the war ended and was considered the father of the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility.
Anthony French: This Anthony French. I was born and raised in Brighton, England, south of London. I went to Cambridge as a student in Upping, which is more or less northeast of London in 1939, just a couple of weeks after the war was declared.