Jim Walther is the director of the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, NM. He begins this interview by discussing his working relationship with Jim Sanborn, the sculptor behind the renowned exhibits “Atomic Time” and “Critical Assembly.” He continues with a discussion of health physics, the history of nuclear reactors, and other innovations from the Manhattan Project. Walther also talks about the portrayal of nuclear issues in popular culture. He concludes by asserting the importance of studying the Manhattan Project and other nuclear issues.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. This is January 30th, 2017. We’re in Washington, D.C., and I’m with John Coster-Mullen. I want to start by asking him to say his name and spell it, please.
John Coster-Mullen: John Coster-Mullen, J-O-H-N C-O-S-T-E-R-M-U-L-L-E-N.
Kelly: Great. Some have called you “Atomic John.”
Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is Saturday, February 4, 2017. I have with me Jay Shelton. My first question is to please say your name, full name, and spell it.
Shelton: Jay Shelton, J-A-Y S-H-E-L-T-O-N.
Kelly: Perfect. Now, Jay, why don’t you just tell a little bit about yourself and what you have been doing for the last umpteen years?
Cindy Kelly: Today is February 3rd, 2017. I am Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. I am in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with Clay K. Perkins. I would like him to first say his full name and spell it.
Clay Perkins: It’s Clay, middle initial K for Kemper, last name Perkins. C-L-A-Y K P-E-R-K-I-N-S.
Kelly: Tell us about who you are. Where are you from? When were you born, how you got interested in science?
Cindy Kelly: This is Monday, January 30th, 2017. I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. We are in Washington, D.C., with Bruce Cameron Reed. If you could say your name for us and spell it.
Bruce Cameron Reed: Bruce Cameron Reed, B-R-U-C-E C-A-M-E-R-O-N R-E-E-D.
Kelly: Great. Bruce, tell us about yourself. I know you’re a professor at Alma College, but maybe you could start at the beginning—when and where you were born and how you got interested in science.
Bruce Cameron Reed is a physicist and a professor at Alma College. In this interview, he discusses a course he teaches at Alma about nuclear weapons and the Manhattan Project. He explains how he became interested in the physics and history of the Manhattan Project. He provides an overview of some of the challenges the Manhattan Project scientists faced and why uranium, plutonium, and polonium are so difficult to work with.
[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Willie Atencio: All right. Mr. Nick Salazar, we want to interview you because we know you remember a lot of things about Los Alamos. Can you first tell us the first time you went to Los Alamos?
Nick Salazar: As an employee?
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, November 17, 2016, Chicago, Illinois. I have with me Henry Frisch. My first question for him is to say your name and spell it, please.
Henry Frisch: Okay. It’s Henry Frisch, F-r-i-s-c-h.
Kelly: Why don’t you tell us who you are?
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, and it is November 16, 2016. I’m in Chicago, Illinois with Roger Hildebrand. My first question for him is tell me your name and spell it, please.
Roger Hildebrand: My name is Roger Hildebrand, R-o-g-e-r H-i-l-d-e-b-r-a-n-d.
Kelly: Tell us what is your birthday and where were you born?
Cindy Kelly: Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly. It is November 17, 2016. I’m in Chicago, Illinois, and I’m with Peter Vandervoort. I would like first to ask Peter to say his name and spell it.
Peter Vandervoort: I am Peter Oliver Vandervoort. Vandervoort has now been spelled in an Americanized way, V-a-n-d-e-r-v-o-o-r-t.