Announcer: You are listening to Extension 720. Here once again is your host, Milt Rosenberg.
Race for the Bomb
Announcer: Here is your host and moderator, Milton Rosenberg.
Milton Rosenberg: Our guests tonight all know a great deal about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but from different vantage points, two of them from the vantage point of being up in the air and helping to drop the bombs. They are Fred Olivi, who was the co-pilot of Bockscar. That was the plane that actually delivered the bomb to Nagasaki.
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.
Wendy Steinle: Good morning, Ralph. I’m Wendy Steinle, as you know, and I am really pleased to be your friend and to have the opportunity to interview you this morning. Just for the record, will you start by stating and spelling your name, and then tell us the date?
Ralph Gates: Well, thanks, Wendy. My name is Ralph Gates, but I am—it’s Ralph Pillsbury Gates and I am a junior. It’s R-a-l-p-h, Pillsbury is P-i-l-l-s-b-u-r-y, and Gates is G-a-t-e-s.
Steinle: What is today’s date?
Ralph Gates is a chemical and electrical engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project as a part of the Special Engineer Detachment. His primary job was casting shape charges for the plutonium bombs.
Murray Peshkin: Well, how did I get involved in the Manhattan Project? I was an undergraduate student at Cornell University. A group of about ten, who were studying physics. It was clear that we could not be kept out of the Army very long. They were looking for programs in which we could serve usefully. I really believed that there was something else behind it.
Murray Peshkin is a Manhattan Project veteran and a physicist. He was recruited by the Army to assist the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos when he was an undergraduate student studying physics at Cornell.
Anthony French: This Anthony French. I was born and raised in Brighton, England, south of London. I went to Cambridge as a student in Upping, which is more or less northeast of London in 1939, just a couple of weeks after the war was declared.