Charles Critchfield was a mathematical physicist assigned to work on the development of gun-type fission weapons, and eventually implosion-type weapons, at Los Alamos. He returned to Los Alamos in 1952 to work on the development of the hydrogen bomb.
Stephane Groueff: Now it is recording Dr. Langsdorf. If you can tell me in a few words how you got connected with the project and where you came from.
Alexander Langsdorf: Oh, in the first place, as soon as I got my PhD at MIT, I went out to Berkeley as a national research fellow and started to work in Ernest Lawrence’s lab doing nuclear physics, which was a brand new field then, just opening up in 1938.
Stephane Groueff: You remember this visit now?
Norman Hilberry: Oh, boy.
Groueff: Could you tell me about that part?
Richard Rhodes: An interview with Dr. Stanislaw Ulam in Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 6, 1983.
Rhodes: Well I have some questions for you.
Ulam: Yes, of course. How long are you staying?
Rhodes: I am going to be in the area for until Saturday morning. It would be pleasant to see more of you. I thought I would go out to Los Alamos today and stay up there.
Ulam: There is a hotel.
Stephane Groueff: Yes, now we’re recording, Dr. Hilberry.
Stephane Groueff: We could start now with your biography and where you were born. I see that you were born in Cleveland.
General Kenneth Nichols: Well, I was born in a little suburb of Cleveland called West Park, Ohio [on November 13, 1907].
Groueff: West Park, Ohio.
Nichols: Later became a part of Cleveland.
Stephane Groueff: So I think the best thing is just talk. So if you want to start from the beginning and tell me a little bit about yourself, Dr. Wheeler, and where you come from and a few words about your career, and how you happen to get involved with the atomic project.
John Wheeler: Well I would say that my most important decision I ever took was to go to work with Niels Bohr. I remember writing the fellowship application when I was twenty-one years old to go to work with him because—
Stephane Groueff: It is recording, Dr. Urey.
Dr. Harold Urey: Yes.
Groueff: So where shall we start?
[We would like to thank Robert S. Norris, author of the definitive biography of General Leslie R. Groves, Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project's Indispensable Man, for taking the time to read over these transcripts for mispellings and other errors.]
Stephane Groueff: Where did you come from? Probably we’ll start chronologically and then—
Dr. Samuel K. Allison: I was born here in Chicago, just half a kilometer from where we’re sitting at this moment. I went to school at the public schools in the city of Chicago and entered the University of Chicago in 1917. I got my PhD in 1923, went away for six years, but have been here ever since. So, I’ve been here ever since 1929, 1930.
Groueff: Teaching or research?