The Manhattan Project

Polonium

Krik Krikorian's Interview

Nerses Krikorian: My name is Nerses Krikorian, N-E-R-S-E-S K-R-I-K-O-R-I-A-N. I was born in Harput, Turkey in 1921, January of 1921, to Hachig and Lucy Krikorian. Somehow or another they extricated me from the genocide which was prevailing and in a four-year period managed to get me from Turkey, where I was born, through Aleppo, where my brother was born.

Nerses "Krik" Krikorian

Nerses “Krik” Krikorian was born in Turkey in 1921. He was brought to North America at the age of four, escaping the aftermath of the Armenian genocide. After graduating from college, Krikorian worked for Union Carbide in Niagara Falls, NY during World War II. In 1946, he was approached to work at Los Alamos to build polonium initiators for one year. He ended up staying in Los Alamos, where he still resides today, and even helped to write the charter to govern the town. In this interview, he remembers his childhood and experiences as the eldest son in an immigrant family.

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.

University of Rochester

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.

Richard Yalman's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is January 27, 2015. I am in Santa Fe with Richard Yalman, and the first question I have for you is to say your name and spell it.

Richard Yalman: My name is Richard George Yalman, that’s Y-A-L-M-A-N.

Kelly: Perfect. Very good. Richard has a very interesting story to tell about his days in the Manhattan Project, but to put it in context, we want him to start with his birthday, where he was born and something about his childhood.

Mary Lou Curtis's Interview

[Many thanks to Bill Curtis for recording and donating this interview to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Mary Lou Curtis: When I got out of college, it was 1932 and a big Depression was on. Miami University, where I graduated from, only placed one teacher that year because jobs were so hard to find. I didn’t get a teaching job that first year, but I worked in the Miami University Library for I think maybe thirty cents an hour and managed to get through the year.

J. P. Moore's Interview

Ron Elmlinger: Well my name is Ron Elmlinger. E-L-M-L-I-N-G-E-R. And we are in Grand Junction, Colorado. Today is June 28, 2013 and I am here with J. P. Moore. Mr. Moore, would you please say and spell your full name?

J. P. Moore: James Phillip Moore, Junior.

Elmlinger: And that is M-O-O-R-E, I am sure.

Moore: Yes.

Elmlinger: And when were you born, Mr. Moore?

Moore: New Orleans, Louisiana.

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