The Manhattan Project

Robert Bacher

John Manley's Interview (1985) - Part 1

Martin Sherwin: Good afternoon, this is an interview with John Manley at the Red Onion restaurant, January 9th, 1985, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

John Manley: —whether you want to start that yet or not? I’m not at all sure in what way I can help you.

Sherwin: Well, I would like to write a book. [Laughter]

Manley: I would like somebody else to write a book with information I could supply.

Robert Bacher's Interview - Part 2

Robert Bacher: I presented this [the discovery of the neutron] in the seminar and there were a good many questions. Some people were skeptical. I convinced Ed Condon almost immediately. In fact, within the week we had written a note together on the spin of the neutron because you could work it out. This part of it fit into the things of nuclear spins, hyperfine structure, nuclear moments, and so on. A good many other people came around to it. I think more than half the people were convinced at that time.

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.

Jean Bacher's Interview

Jean Bacher: Ruth Valentine said, “I shall take Ruth [Tolman]’s desk.” She always saved letters. She had marvelous long letters from Robert, you know, especially at the time of the hearings. I knew they were just terribly close and shared a great deal. On the drawer of the desk, she’d said, “Destroy these.”

Martin Sherwin: You saw it happen? 

Bacher: I didn’t see her burn it, because at that time we still burned and they just threw them out in the burner in the back yard.

California Institute of Technology

Before the war, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) was a leading university in the fields of particle and nuclear physics. It was especially known for its experimental physicists. Many scientists who had important roles on the Manhattan Project were affiliated with Caltech, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, Richard Tolman, and Robert Bacher. In addition, a group working at Caltech under Charles Lauritsen directly assisted in the bomb-building effort, providing help manufacturing detonators that would be used in the atomic bombs. 

Lee DuBridge's Interview - Part 1

Martin Sherwin: Today is March 30, 1983. I am at the CalTech campus and I am going to interview President Emeritus Lee DuBridge at his home in Pasadena.

Lee DuBridge: But we were on many things together and so we saw a good deal of each other. I visited him [J. Robert Oppenheimer] at his home in Princeton a number of times. We had meetings there and we would drop in for social visits and so on.

Sherwin: I would like to sort of try to bore in on some of the points.

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.

Rose Bethe's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I'm Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and I'm in Ithaca, New York. It is Wednesday, June 11, 2014. And I have with me Rose Bethe. And I'm going to start by asking Rose to tell us her name and spell it.

Rose Bethe: My name is Rose Bethe. It's spelled B as in boy, E, T as in Tom, H, E.

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