Rhodes: I am working on a book that would try to cover the years ’45 to ’55. I just finished the first 400 pages; it is all the Soviet bomb story, because so much has come available, including the espionage part of it. But, now I would like to get going and just simply try to deal with the development of the hydrogen bomb. And, most of all, I would like to describe the Mike shot, when you guys all came to put that together. But you also worked later, right, on Romeo? What was Romeo?
Nuclear Arms Race
Cindy Kelly: This is Wednesday, February 13, 2013. I’m Cindy Kelly, and we have with us Alex Wellerstein. Alex, could you say your name and spell it, please?
Alex Wellerstein: Alex Wellerstein, W-E-L-L-E-R-S-T-E-I-N, and it’s just Alex, nothing fancy.
Kelly: Great. Thank you, Alex. Alex, give us a little background as to your education and how you come to know about the Manhattan Project and related subjects.
Richard Rhodes: There are two particular themes that I am interested in that I know you were involved with very much. Anything else that you remember that you would want to talk about would be wonderful. One is the developing of computing. Los Alamos made a major contribution to the development of computing in the world. The other has to do with the period around the invention of the two-stage thermonuclear weapon. Could you talk about your experience with those things?
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly from the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Friday, April 11, 2014, and I have with me William Lanouette who is going to be talking about Leo Szilard. Why don’t you start by actually saying your full name and spelling it?
Bill Lanouette: I’m William Lanouette, L-A-N-O-U-E-T-T-E.
Kelly: Tell us about Szilard. Who was he? What’s his background?
Cindy Kelly: I am Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and today’s date is June 6, 2013. And we’re in Cambridge, Massachusetts with Priscilla McMillan. And I have a very easy question to begin with, which is, could you say your name, and spell it?
Priscilla McMillan: My name is Priscilla, P-R-I-S-C-I-L-L-A McMillan, M-C-M-I-L-L-A-N.
A little-known operation of the Manhattan Engineering District took place behind enemy lines in occupied Europe. Code-named the "Alsos" Mission, these intelligence-gathering operations moved with the advancing Allies to learn firsthand how close Germany was to developing its own atomic weapon. Under the command of General Leslie Groves, these operations succeeded in capturing most of the key German scientists, stores of uranium ore and other nuclear raw materials, and thousands of research documents regarding the development of atomic energy.
[At top is the edited version of the interview published by S. L. Sanger in Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995.
For the full transcript that matches the audio of the interview, please scroll down.]
Jay Wechsler: Well, my mother was visiting her folks in New York when she decided that it was time, and I was the first child, and I guess she was a little surprised. So I was born in New York even though we didn’t live there. And as soon as we were able we were back in New Jersey, where she and my father lived. My father was a chemist and even at a young age he was always taking me into the plant where he worked, showing me things. And I kind of had a mechanical bend or bent.
Stirling Auchincloss Colgate: I’m Stirling Auchincloss Colgate. And the first name is spelled with an extra “I,” S-T-I-R-L-I-N-G. My middle name is Auchincloss, A-U-C-H-I-N-C-L-O-S-S. And that last name is Colgate, and when I was around ten or eleven years old or somewheres like that, I changed my name and chose that myself, so I’m happy about that name. I like it.