The Manhattan Project

Isidor I. Rabi

Jim Smith's Interview

Cindy Kelly: Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly. It’s Monday, February 6, 2017, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I have James L. Smith. My first question to him is to say his full name and spell it.

Jim Smith: James Lawrence Smith, J-A-M-E-S L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E S-M-I-T-H.

Kelly: Great. Thank you. Why don’t you begin by just telling us a little bit about yourself? What your background is, what you studied and so forth, where you were born, in a nutshell.

James L. Smith

James L. Smith is an American physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). In this interview, Smith recalls his more than forty-year career at LANL. He describes some of the history of the Manhattan Project and LANL’s innovative work during the war through today, including work on the human genome, computing, and radiation detection. He emphasizes the importance of having multidisciplinary national laboratories to produce pioneering innovations and scientific discoveries.

Louis Hempelmann's Interview - Part 3

Martin Sherwin: What was the set-up at Los Alamos, in terms of your relationship to the director [J. Robert Oppenheimer] and how you operated?

Louis Hempelmann:  I was working directly under him. I started out with my wife as a half-time secretary, and the technician I brought with me from St. Louis, and Kitty worked for me.

Sherwin: What did Kitty do for you?

Hempelmann: Did blood counts.

Sherwin: Was she a good technician?

Lee DuBridge's Interview - Part 2

Lee DuBridge: So, yeah, we thought it was an exciting time to have the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission]. We knew, of course, that they were going ahead with the weapon development, but also they were going to support Brookhaven and other research centers around the country. So, no, I think those of us who were not imminently in the Manhattan District, but aware of it, were quite excited about getting in and finding out more about really what was going on and what the new possibilities were, both in physics and in weapon technology.

Haakon Chevalier's Interview - Part 2

Martin Sherwin: You mentioned a point that others have mentioned that intrigue me: [J. Robert] Oppenheimer’s summer in Corsica. You said that Oppenheimer had once told you that reading [Marcel] Proust’s Memory of Things Past was one of the great experiences of his life.

Haakon Chevalier: Yes.

Sherwin: I have two questions about that. One, could you elaborate on that? Anything that you recall he said and why. The second has to do with whether you know anything else about that summer in Corsica.

Hans Bethe's Interview (1982) - Part 2

Hans Bethe: The other was M - A - D, MAD [Mutually Assured Destruction], which essentially says that nuclear weapons make sense only as a safeguard against nuclear weapons. As [Wolfgang] Panofsky has said recently, and there is actually an article by him, "It is not a doctrine. It is a fact of life. Nothing else is possible, whatever you might wish.” So I think you should not present it as something really unavoidable, without any movements in the opposite direction.  

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