The Manhattan Project

Scientific Discoveries

Stanislaus Ulam's Interview (1979)

Stanislaus Ulam: You know, after forty-five years in this country, my accent is still very hard.

Martin Sherwin: That’s all right. I still have a Brooklyn accent.

Ulam:  Oh, you do?

Sherwin: I left Brooklyn twenty years ago. I think even though I do know a lot of the answers to some of the questions I’m going to ask you from your book—

Ulam:  Yes.

Kathleen Maxwell's Interview

Nate Weisenberg: My name is Nate Weisenberg. I am doing this interview for the Atomic Heritage Foundation with Kathleen Maxwell here in Wellesley, Massachusetts. It is Monday, April 25, 2016.

How did you get involved with the Manhattan Project?

Kathleen Maxwell: I had just finished my Master’s degree at Smith [College], and I was contemplating staying at Smith because the main men in our department there had gone to work for the Manhattan Project someplace else.

Jersey City, NJ

Jersey City was home to the headquarters of the M. W. Kellogg Company, which specialized in chemical engineering projects. In 1942, the S-1 Committee tasked Kellogg with conducting research into the feasibility of the gaseous diffusion process for separating uranium isotopes. As the Manhattan Project began, Kellogg's vice president of engineering, Percival "Dobie" Keith, took charge of a newly created subsidiary of Kellogg, the Kellex Corporation.

Joseph Rotblat's Interview

Martin Sherwin: This is an interview with Professor Joseph Rotblat, R-O-T-B-L-A-T, at his office in London. Well it really was quite a production. Seven hours!

Joseph Rotblat: Yes, oh yes, quite a production.

Sherwin: I thought Sam Waterston played a marvelous part.

Rotblat: Who?

Sherwin: The person who played [J. Robert] Oppenheimer.

Marvin Goldberger's Interview

Martin Sherwin: President Goldberger, Marvin Goldberger of California Institute of Technology at Caltech in Pasadena, March 28, 1983. This is Martin Sherwin.

This is something obviously I should have done three years ago back in Princeton when you had more time, etc.

Marvin Goldberger: That’s all right. I have plenty of time.

Sherwin: You first met [J. Robert] Oppenheimer after the war, right?

Ed Hammel's Interview

Martin Sherwin: The work must have been sort of very frustrating for a while, before that [Stanislaus] Ulam-[Edward] Teller breakthrough [on the hydrogen bomb].

Ed Hammel: Well, sure. There was— 

Sherwin: What were you doing at that time?

Hammel: At that point, I continued with having this group in charge of properties of plutonium. But one of the things that we were very interested in was the low temperature properties, the specific heat specifically, of plutonium.

University of Rochester

Small experiments studying the effects of radioactive isotopes, including plutonium, uranium, and polonium, on humans were conducted in the Manhattan Annex of the Strong Memorial Hospital located at the University of Rochester. The purpose of these studies was to examine the safety of small amounts of radiation on those working at other Manhattan Project sites.

Britain

Often overlooked, British physicists were the first to realize the feasibility of an atomic bomb and their urgings were vital to the development and success of the Manhattan Project in the United States.

California Institute of Technology

Before the war, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) was a leading university in the fields of particle and nuclear physics. It was especially known for its experimental physicists. Many scientists who had important roles on the Manhattan Project were affiliated with Caltech, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, Richard Tolman, and Robert Bacher. In addition, a group working at Caltech under Charles Lauritsen directly assisted in the bomb-building effort, providing help manufacturing detonators that would be used in the atomic bombs. 

Ted Taylor's Interview - Part 4

Rhodes: Well, I had started to ask you about the Korean War. Was that a shock? Did that worry everyone and accelerate your sense of pressure?

Taylor: I don’t think so. I don’t remember any feeling of pressure, that we had to do something by a certain time or else all hell would break lose. All I remember was excitement and anticipation and eagerness to know the result of something I had worked on.

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