Yvonne Delamater: We are interviewing Berlyn Brixner and thanks so much for coming. Briefly tell me when and where you were born and something about your education and training.
Theresa Strottman: We are talking with Harold Agnew who has worked here [at Los Alamos] during the Manhattan Project and later was Lab Director. And we thank you very much for coming today. Our first question is if you could briefly tell us when and where you were born and something about your education and training.
Alexandra Levy: We’re here on December 28, 2012 with Evelyne Litz. Please say your name and spell it.
Evelyne Litz: Evelyne Litz, E-V-E-L-Y-N-E, L-I-T-Z.
Levy: So where are you from originally?
Levy: And how did you become involved in the Manhattan Project?
Alexandra Levy: All right, we’re here on December 28, 2012 with Lawrence Litz. First please say your name and spell it.
Lawrence Litz: L-A-W – it’s Lawrence Litz, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E, L-I-T-Z.
Levy: So what was it like working in the war on the Manhattan Project?
Litz: It was very exciting and I felt that I was doing something worthwhile.
Justin Piel: Hi, I am Justin Piel and I am in Palm Harbor, Florida interviewing Dr. Lawrence Litz for a school biography project.
Lawrence Litz: Good afternoon. I am Dr. Litz. I am glad to be able to discuss some of the work that I did many, many years ago on the atomic energy program. And I think Justin has some questions he was interested in getting answers to.
Piel: So, what is your full name?
Benjamin Bederson: I’m Benjamin Bederson.
Cindy Kelly: Can you spell it?
Bederson: B-E-D-E-R-S-O-N. Sometimes it’s called “Bederson.” I say Bederson.
Kelly: And what was your birth date?
Bederson: I was born November 15, 1921. I'm about to have my 90th birthday next month.
Kelly: You are phenomenal. This man looks like he's sixty-five.
Gordon Knobeloch: Okay, it’s Gordon Knobeloch, G-O-R-D-O-N, and the last name is K-N-O-B-E-L-O-C-H.
Kelly: Great. Okay, why don’t you start with how you got to—
Knobeloch: Okay. Well, everybody who came here had their own particular path and mine wasn’t as spectacular as some of them, but it was interesting to me, and I guess it started with good ol’ Pearl Harbor day.
Harvard became an important center for nuclear physics research during the early twentieth century. After Ernest O. Lawrence constructed the first cyclotron at the University of California at Berkeley in 1929, Harvard physicists and engineers such as Harry Mimno, Kenneth Bainbridge, and Edward Purcell began thinking about building their own cylcotron. In 1936, the construction of the cyclotron began in the Gordon McKay laboratory, a wooden World War I building on the east side of Oxford Street. The magnet in the cyclotron weighed eighty-five tons.
Princeton University was a hotbed for nuclear physics research during the early twentieth century. Much of the research conducted at Princeton allowed scientists to develop and pursue a path to building the world's first atomic device. In fact, more than two dozen Princetonians were among the core group of brains at Los Alamos, N.M.
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.