Charles Critchfield was a mathematical physicist assigned to work on the development of gun-type fission weapons, and eventually implosion-type weapons, at Los Alamos. He returned to Los Alamos in 1952 to work on the development of the hydrogen bomb.
Cold War Nuclear Tests
Ted Taylor: I think Carson Mark is the most valuable resource to talk to about what happened in those days at Los Alamos. At Livermore, [Edward] Teller, certainly.
Richard Rhodes: Teller won't talk to me, I'm afraid. He’s decided I’m the enemy.
Jacob Beser: The story which we could tell. And one point that Dr. Wittman, though, which I wish you would please keep in mind—and this is true not only in this situation, but any historical event should be evaluated in the context in which it took place, the context and the times in which it took place. Hopefully we proceed from there and progress. Forty years later, we all had 20/20 hindsight and we also have had access to archives and information that we did not have forty years ago.
Ross Simpson: All right, here’s the promo for Part One of the Nuclear War Series. I’m Ross Simpson on a bus, heading into Cheyenne Mountain, outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. This is the home of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command. This is also where my five part series on the nightmare of nuclear war begins this morning.
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.
Rosen: Well, my name is Louis Rosen. I was born in New York City, not the best part of the city. I’m now almost eighty-five years old. My parents were immigrants from Poland. They were escaping from the pogroms, which were taking place with the Russian Cossacks coming in and raiding villages, especially where Jews where plentiful. My father came over here in about 1909. My mother—they were girl and boyfriends in the old country—came over two years later.
Louis Rosen, a native New Yorker and the son of Polish immigrants, was personally selected to work on the Manhattan project in Los Alamos while a graduate student in physics. Once in Los Alamos, Rosen was assigned to Edwin McMillan’s group, where he worked on implosion technology. Rosen remained in Los Alamos after the war ended and was considered the father of the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility.
Richard Rhodes: An interview with Dr. Stanislaw Ulam in Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 6, 1983.
Rhodes: Well I have some questions for you.
Ulam: Yes, of course. How long are you staying?
Rhodes: I am going to be in the area for until Saturday morning. It would be pleasant to see more of you. I thought I would go out to Los Alamos today and stay up there.
Ulam: There is a hotel.
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 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.