The Manhattan Project

Louis Slotin

Jim Sanborn's Interview

Kelly: Today is Friday, February 3rd, 2017. I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’m here in an installation called “Atomic Time” with its creator, the sculptor and artist Jim Sanborn. My first question to Sanborn is to please say his name and spell it. 

Sanborn:  All right. I’m Jim Sanborn, S-A-N-B-O-R-N. I’m the maker of this installation that I began sometime in 1998 and concluded in 2004, although I added pieces over the years, added more stuff over the years.

Jim Sanborn

Jim Sanborn is an American sculptor known for works such as “Kryptos” at the CIA Headquarters in McLean, VA.

In this interview, Sanborn discusses his exhibit “Atomic Time,” which is now on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, NM. The installation recreates the Manhattan Project scientists’ experiments at Los Alamos to determine when plutonium would go “critical” in an atomic bomb. Sanborn explains why he decided to do the project, and how he carefully created each piece of the exhibit.

Peter Vandervoort's Interview

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. 

Ruth Howes's Interview

Cindy Kelly: Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly. I’m in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s Wednesday, October 12, 2016. I have with me Ruth Howes. I’m going to ask her to please say and spell her name.

Ruth Howes: I am Ruth Howes, and that’s R-u-t-h H-o-w-e-s.

Kelly: Ruth is a very distinguished historian of the Manhattan Project with a particular focus on women, women scientists. I’m going to ask her to talk about this and what she’s learned. 

Alexander Langsdorf's Interview

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.

Groueff: ’38.

Albert Bartlett's Interview

Albert Bartlett: I started school in a little college in Ohio and then I dropped out for a while. Then I applied to transfer to Colgate. I was working on steamboats on the Great Lakes, and I was accepted. A steamboat was coming in to Cleveland, and I just told them I was leaving and going back to college. Of course, the war was on. I was on the first ship the day of Pearl Harbor and so I knew, you know, I was a perfect draft age and I was all registered for the draft.

Albert Bartlett

Albert Bartlett worked with mass spectrometers at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. He was part of the group that photographed the Operations Crossroads nuclear tests in the Bikini Atoll after the war.

Murray Peshkin's Interview

Murray Peshkin:  Well, how did I get involved in the Manhattan Project? I was an undergraduate student at Cornell University. A group of about ten, who were studying physics. It was clear that we could not be kept out of the Army very long. They were looking for programs in which we could serve usefully. I really believed that there was something else behind it.

Murray Peshkin

Murray Peshkin is a Manhattan Project veteran and a physicist. He was recruited by the Army to assist the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos when he was an undergraduate student studying physics at Cornell.

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