Tom Ryan: In the early morning of August 6, 1945, three B-29 bombers departed from Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean. Six hours later, they changed the course of history. A single atomic bomb dropped from the Enola Gay exploded over Hiroshima, Japan. In an instant, over four square miles of the city and an estimated 90,000 of its inhabitants ceased to exist.
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.
The Purdue University Physics Department operated a cyclotron during the early part of the war, conducting important nuclear research. Many of the scientists working on the project were transferred to Los Alamos to continue work on the Manhattan Project.
For more information, see A History of Physics at Purdue: The War Period (1941-1945).
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?
Stephane Groueff: [Enrico] Fermi had the characteristics of a real genius.
Colonel Franklin Matthias: Almost every time you would get in contact with him, something would come up that was impressive. Physically, he was a small man, unimpressive person, but he grew real large when he started talking about things he knew.
Groueff: Was he a friendly person?
Matthias: Yes, warm; very warm, very friendly, a real nice person.
Isabella Karle: Isabella Karle. I-S-A-B-E-L-L-A K-A-R-L-E
Cindy Kelly: Terrific. Could you tell us how you happened to become part of the Manhattan Project?
Jerome Karle: My name is Jerome Karle. And it is J-E-R-O-M-E K-A-R-L-E.
Cindy Kelly: Great. Dr. Karle, can you tell me about what you were doing in the early 1940s and how you happened to become part of the Manhattan Project?
Karle: Well, I had just finished my work in 1943, for my graduation on my degree.
Isabella Karle: Your PhD.
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?
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?
Stephane Groueff: Mr. Hobbs, part two. So to go now to how you were contacted for the Manhattan Project.
J.C. Hobbs: You see, [Ludwig] Skog was one in the group and had me in on –
Groueff: And [William Francis] Gibbs.