Rachel Bronson has served as the Executive Director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since February 2016. In this interview, she discusses the role the Bulletin plays today in informing the public on threats posed by nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies.
University Involvement in the Manhattan Project
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, November 17, 2016, Chicago, Illinois. I have with me Henry Frisch. My first question for him is to say your name and spell it, please.
Henry Frisch: Okay. It’s Henry Frisch, F-r-i-s-c-h.
Kelly: Why don’t you tell us who you are?
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, and it is November 16, 2016. I’m in Chicago, Illinois with Roger Hildebrand. My first question for him is tell me your name and spell it, please.
Roger Hildebrand: My name is Roger Hildebrand, R-o-g-e-r H-i-l-d-e-b-r-a-n-d.
Kelly: Tell us what is your birthday and where were you born?
Cindy Kelly: Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly. It is November 17, 2016. I’m in Chicago, Illinois, and I’m with Peter Vandervoort. I would like first to ask Peter to say his name and spell it.
Peter Vandervoort: I am Peter Oliver Vandervoort. Vandervoort has now been spelled in an Americanized way, V-a-n-d-e-r-v-o-o-r-t.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. This is November 17, 2016, in Chicago, Illinois. I have with me Kennette Benedict, and the first thing I’m going to ask her is to say her name and spell it.
Kennette Benedict: Kennette Benedict. K-e-n-n-e-t-t-e, Benedict, B-e-n-e-d-i-c-t.
Kelly: Great. Thank you, Kennette, for being here. Why don’t we start with just a little something about who you are and why we’ve invited you here today.
Edwin McMillan: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start with two remarks. First, this is going to be a personal story, so if I use the first person singular, this is not pure egotism, it is simply the fact that that’s the part that I know best. Second remark is, the difficulty of establishing facts at such a late date, even of important things. During the Manhattan Project, of course, there was security impressed upon everyone, so very few people kept any notes.
Harold Cherniss: Well, you see, I was married on January 1, 1929, in White Plains. When we went back to Berkeley, it was immediately after that that I met [J. Robert] Oppenheimer. This is the time in which he had come to Berkeley the autumn before, just about this time. Taught one term in Berkeley, one term at Caltech. That’s when I first met him, and I met him because my wife had known him when they were children.
Martin Sherwin: Your wife’s maiden name?
Cindy Kelly: Okay, I am Cindy Kelly. This is Tuesday, August 9, 2016 in Berkeley, California. I have with me Dr. Geoffrey Chew. My first question to him is to say and spell his name.
Geoffrey Chew: Geoffrey Chew, G-E-O-F-F-R-E-Y C-H-E-W.
Kelly: Very good, so now we will move on to some harder stuff. If you could tell us when you were born and where, and a little bit about your own childhood.
Owen Gingerich: Professor Roy Glauber is a physicist, a physicist who had an early start in physics because when he was still an undergraduate at Harvard, it was during World War II. A mysterious caller knocked on his dormitory door, and asked him if he would want to participate in some unspecified kind of scientific war work. He ended up going to Los Alamos as one of the youngest scientists in that scientific community working to make the atomic bomb. Of course there in Los Alamos, Robert Oppenheimer was the director.
Martin Sherwin: How much were the dues [to the Communist Party]?
David Hawkins: God, I don’t remember. Not very much, or I wouldn’t have been able to afford them.
Sherwin: Two bucks, five bucks?
Hawkins: Yeah, something like that.
Sherwin: A month?