Karen Dorn Steele: It's April 29, 2019. Our first interview is with F. Robert Cook, a retired Nuclear Regulatory Commission overseer at Hanford Reservation. First, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background—where you grew up and something about your early education?
Bob Cook is a nuclear engineer. He began his career by working with Naval Reactors and he helped create the structural design base for reactors, which later became the design basis for all nuclear power plants. From 1963 to 1988 he worked for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He also worked as a consultant for the Yakama Nation.
Martin Sherwin: The work must have been sort of very frustrating for a while, before that [Stanislaus] Ulam-[Edward] Teller breakthrough [on the hydrogen bomb].
Ed Hammel: Well, sure. There was—
Sherwin: What were you doing at that time?
Hammel: At that point, I continued with having this group in charge of properties of plutonium. But one of the things that we were very interested in was the low temperature properties, the specific heat specifically, of plutonium.
Carson Mark: We shouldn’t have been making this damn bomb without trying to keep it secret from [Joseph] Stalin. We should’ve been talking to him like [Niels] Bohr said. [Klaus] Fuchs believed and took it into his own hands to make sure that the conversation went on. Of course, he didn’t need to because Stalin knew anyway. Not the technical details, but the general facts.
George Cowan: What you’ve learned from the Russians, for example?
Richard Rhodes: The main thing I have learned is that their first bomb was a carbon copy of Fat Man.
Cowan Cowan: Well of course. I knew that in 1949, about the middle of September of ’49 because we analyzed the debris from that and it was clear that it was a carbon copy.
Rhodes: I am working on a book that would try to cover the years ’45 to ’55. I just finished the first 400 pages; it is all the Soviet bomb story, because so much has come available, including the espionage part of it. But, now I would like to get going and just simply try to deal with the development of the hydrogen bomb. And, most of all, I would like to describe the Mike shot, when you guys all came to put that together. But you also worked later, right, on Romeo? What was Romeo?