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.
University Involvement in the Manhattan Project
Nate Weisenberg: My name is Nathaniel Weisenberg. I am here in Needham, Massachusetts with [Margaret] “Chickie” Broderick, recording this oral history interview for the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Monday, April 25, 2016.
My first question for you is where and when were you born?
Margaret Broderick: I was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1921.
Weisenberg: Where in Boston were you born?
Broderick: The Forest Hills Hospital.
Dan Robinson: I’m Dan Robinson recording this oral history for the Atomic Heritage Foundation on April 1st, 2016, here in Levittown, Pennsylvania.
Roslyn: My name is Roslyn Robinson. At times I use the initial “D,” because at one time there was another Roslyn Robinson and the mail was being mixed up. So, I’m either Roslyn D. Robinson or Roslyn Robinson.
Dan: What is your place and date of birth? Where were you born and what date?
Martin Sherwin: On June 5th, 1982. Well, now, John, why don’t you start and ask questions about the relationship with Cliff, because I think the [J. Robert] Oppenheimer relationship might be able to go on forever, and we’ll never get to your questions.
John S. Rosenberg: Okay. Well, first, how did you come to meet? What was the nature of your original coming together?
Ed Wood: January 21, 1954 will go down as a significant day in human history. A milestone in man’s scientific progress. For on that day, at Groton, Connecticut, was launched the first nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus, powered by the world’s first atomic engine designed to do useful work. With this achievement, man at last has seen the dawn of the age of atomic power.
Stephane Groueff: Dr. Raymond Grills, DuPont, Wilmington.
Martin Sherwin: This is an interview with John De Wire at Cornell University in his office at Newman Hall 228, Newman. Today is May 5, 1982.
You were with Robert Wilson’s group from Princeton that was recruited by [J. Robert] Oppenheimer in ’43, right? Late ’43, was it?
John De Wire: Early ’43.
Sherwin: Early ’43.
De Wire: I went to Princeton in February ’42.
Gerhart Friedlander: My name is Gerhart Friedlander.
Interviewer: What was your role in the Manhattan Project?
Friedlander: I got into the Manhattan Project very early; in fact, before there was an official Manhattan Project. I was a graduate student at Berkeley at the University of California. My thesis advisor was Glenn Seaborg, who later on got a Nobel Prize and became chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, but at that time he was just a new instructor and I was his first graduate student.
Stephane Groueff: Interview with Dr. Clarence Larson—L-A-R-S-O-N—head of the Union Carbide’s operations at Oak Ridge, a chemist. Dr. Larson was connected with the electromagnetic separation process during the war, and he was a personal friend of Dr. Lawrence [Ernest O. Lawrence]. He’s married to the daughter of Dr. Stafford Warren, who was also with the project. You came in 1942?
Dr. Clarence Larson: Yes.
Groueff: From where?
General Kenneth Nichols: —found we did not have the authority to satisfy DuPont.
Stephane Groueff: But why did DuPont challenge your authority?
Nichols: Because they had trouble, in World War I, being called munitions makers and investigated after World War I, so they are more conservative than most companies. And they wanted to have in their files copies of our authorities. And what we had, which I have shown you, and that is satisfactory to them.
Groueff: I see.