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.
Race for the Atomic Bomb
[Thanks to Ronald K. Smeltzer for donating the record "To Fermi with Love" to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Norman Brown: My name is Norman L. Brown. Brown is spelled as Brown is usually spelled, without an E.
Cindy Kelly: Great, okay. Why don’t you start by telling us how you became part of the Manhattan Project?
[We would like to thank Robert S. Norris, author of the definitive biography of General Leslie R. Groves, Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project's Indispensable Man, for taking the time to read over these transcripts for misspellings and other errors.]
General Leslie R. Groves: All right now what else is there?
Stephane Groueff: Now it is recording Dr. Langsdorf. If you can tell me in a few words how you got connected with the project and where you came from.
Alexander Langsdorf: Oh, in the first place, as soon as I got my PhD at MIT, I went out to Berkeley as a national research fellow and started to work in Ernest Lawrence’s lab doing nuclear physics, which was a brand new field then, just opening up in 1938.
Groueff: General Nichols, Part 2.
Nichols: But Dobie [Percival Keith] came back immediately, or shortly thereafter, with the suggestion we build more gaseous diffusion base plants, and that was why we built the K-27 plant.
Groueff: A base?
Bird: Let us begin at the beginning and I think the viewers of this will want to know first about your own background. What year were you born?
Carter: I was born in 1920 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Bird: On what day?
Carter: February 3, 1920.
Bird: Okay, 1920, what was sort of before modern physics, quantum physics was invented as such.
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.
Hunt: I started working for DuPont in 1937 at Old Hickory [in Tennessee] in the power department. I was very anxious to do the best I could, so I made a special effort to learn everything.
Where were you when you were told to return to Wilmington?
Hunt: At that point I was a power superintendent at Childersburg Ordnance.
That was in Alabama?
Hunt: In Alabama.
When did you find out about Hanford?
Bob Caron: Oh, now for comments on Bob Lewis. I do not know what the hell to say about that, Joe. Bob calls me fairly frequently on his WATS [Wide Area Telephone Service] line, and I kind of feel like I am in the middle of something. He is very bitter, and very bitter towards [Paul] Tibbets. How justified it is I am just not sure. I do not know really the whole story. Bob is very emphatic when he tells his side of the story. When I mention some things, he just tells me, “Oh, you are too damn naïve.” Well, I know I am. Always have been.