Richard Rhodes: There are two particular themes that I am interested in that I know you were involved with very much. Anything else that you remember that you would want to talk about would be wonderful. One is the developing of computing. Los Alamos made a major contribution to the development of computing in the world. The other has to do with the period around the invention of the two-stage thermonuclear weapon. Could you talk about your experience with those things?
[At the top is the edited version of the interview published by S. L. Sanger in Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995. For the full transcript that matches the audio of the interview, please scroll down.]
Cindy Kelly: We are with Richard Rhodes at Atomic Heritage Foundation’s studio in Washington, D.C. Can you start by telling us your name?
Richard Rhodes: I’m Richard Rhodes.
Kelly: Can you spell that, please?
Rhodes: Yes, R-H-O-D-E-S.
Kelly: And Richard spelled the usual way?
Cindy Kelly: This is Wednesday, February 13, 2013. I’m Cindy Kelly, and we have with us Alex Wellerstein. Alex, could you say your name and spell it, please?
Alex Wellerstein: Alex Wellerstein, W-E-L-L-E-R-S-T-E-I-N, and it’s just Alex, nothing fancy.
Kelly: Great. Thank you, Alex. Alex, give us a little background as to your education and how you come to know about the Manhattan Project and related subjects.
Stephane Groueff: Dr. Anderson?
Herbert Anderson: Yes.
Groueff: Now we can talk?
Anderson: I guess so.
Stephane Groueff: Where did you come from? Probably we’ll start chronologically and then—
Dr. Samuel K. Allison: I was born here in Chicago, just half a kilometer from where we’re sitting at this moment. I went to school at the public schools in the city of Chicago and entered the University of Chicago in 1917. I got my PhD in 1923, went away for six years, but have been here ever since. So, I’ve been here ever since 1929, 1930.
Groueff: Teaching or research?
Charney: Where shall I start?
Groueff: Tell me how you got involved in the whole project and your first meeting with all those people and where you came from. Start from the beginning.
Philip Abelson: I went to the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in the fall of 1935 as a graduate student in the Radiation Laboratory. I had had some background in chemistry. I hadn’t been there more than about six months before [Ernest] Lawrence, one day, suggested to me that I should look into the phenomena accompanying neutron irradiation of uranium.
Stephane Groueff: Interview with Dr. James Conant. Dr. James Conant, New York, October 11, 1965.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly from the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Friday, April 11, 2014, and I have with me William Lanouette who is going to be talking about Leo Szilard. Why don’t you start by actually saying your full name and spelling it?
Bill Lanouette: I’m William Lanouette, L-A-N-O-U-E-T-T-E.
Kelly: Tell us about Szilard. Who was he? What’s his background?