Small experiments studying the effects of radioactive isotopes, including plutonium, uranium, and polonium, on humans were conducted in the Manhattan Annex of the Strong Memorial Hospital located at the University of Rochester. The purpose of these studies was to examine the safety of small amounts of radiation on those working at other Manhattan Project sites.
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.
Before the war, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) was a leading university in the fields of particle and nuclear physics. It was especially known for its experimental physicists. Many scientists who had important roles on the Manhattan Project were affiliated with Caltech, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, Richard Tolman, and Robert Bacher. In addition, a group working at Caltech under Charles Lauritsen directly assisted in the bomb-building effort, providing help manufacturing detonators that would be used in the atomic bombs.
Rhodes: Well, I had started to ask you about the Korean War. Was that a shock? Did that worry everyone and accelerate your sense of pressure?
Taylor: I don’t think so. I don’t remember any feeling of pressure, that we had to do something by a certain time or else all hell would break lose. All I remember was excitement and anticipation and eagerness to know the result of something I had worked on.
Richard Rhodes: Although again, I was struck in Russia with how different a world that was.
Ted Taylor: Oh, yeah.
Rhodes: How much more closely they were—
Taylor: That is why I am so thankful because in many other places people get shot.
Rhodes: Yeah. We could not even get directions on the street. Nobody wanted to talk to foreigners. Even now, partly, I am sure.
Taylor: Some of that is habit, I think.
Ed Wood: January 21, 1954 will go down as a significant day in human history. A milestone in man’s scientific progress. For on that day, at Groton, Connecticut, was launched the first nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus, powered by the world’s first atomic engine designed to do useful work. With this achievement, man at last has seen the dawn of the age of atomic power.
[Many thanks to Claude Lyneis for donating this footage to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Narrator: About seventy-five miles northwest of Walla Walla, Washington, in an isolated expanse of open desert, civilization entered into a new age, an age from which it would never emerge the same. Here, in the home of the Wanapum Indians, the terrain is mostly scrubland, laced here and there by cheatgrass, greasewood, and Russian thistle.
Stephane Groueff: Dr. Raymond Grills, DuPont, Wilmington.
Crawford Greenewalt: Crawford Greenewalt. I’m named after my father, Crawford Hallock Greenewalt. The last name, Greenewalt, is spelled G-R-E-E-N-E-W-A-L-T. But in early years in the country, the Greenewalt’s spelled their name various ways. The present spelling may go back several generations.
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.