The Manhattan Project

Edward Teller

Jim Sanborn's Interview

Kelly: Today is Friday, February 3rd, 2017. I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’m here in an installation called “Atomic Time” with its creator, the sculptor and artist Jim Sanborn. My first question to Sanborn is to please say his name and spell it. 

Sanborn:  All right. I’m Jim Sanborn, S-A-N-B-O-R-N. I’m the maker of this installation that I began sometime in 1998 and concluded in 2004, although I added pieces over the years, added more stuff over the years.

Jim Sanborn

Jim Sanborn is an American sculptor known for works such as “Kryptos” at the CIA Headquarters in McLean, VA.

In this interview, Sanborn discusses his exhibit “Atomic Time,” which is now on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, NM. The installation recreates the Manhattan Project scientists’ experiments at Los Alamos to determine when plutonium would go “critical” in an atomic bomb. Sanborn explains why he decided to do the project, and how he carefully created each piece of the exhibit.

Jim Smith's Interview

Cindy Kelly: Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly. It’s Monday, February 6, 2017, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I have James L. Smith. My first question to him is to say his full name and spell it.

Jim Smith: James Lawrence Smith, J-A-M-E-S L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E S-M-I-T-H.

Kelly: Great. Thank you. Why don’t you begin by just telling us a little bit about yourself? What your background is, what you studied and so forth, where you were born, in a nutshell.

James L. Smith

James L. Smith is an American physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). In this interview, Smith recalls his more than forty-year career at LANL. He describes some of the history of the Manhattan Project and LANL’s innovative work during the war through today, including work on the human genome, computing, and radiation detection. He emphasizes the importance of having multidisciplinary national laboratories to produce pioneering innovations and scientific discoveries.

Lydia Martinez's Interview (2017)

Cindy Kelly: I am Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is Saturday, February 4, 2017. I have with me Lydia Martinez. My first question for you is to say your name and spell it.

Lydia Martinez: Lydia L-y-d-i-a G. Martinez M-a-r-t-i-n-e-z.

Kelly: Can you tell us what the G stands for?

Martinez: Gomez. We have the Gomez Ranch also.

Kelly: Tell me about the Gomez family. How far back does it go?

Eulalia Quintana Newton's Interview

[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Willie Atencio: Eula, you went to school in Española, right? Española?

Eula Quintana Newton: Yes, I did.

Atencio: You were the valedictorian of your class?

Quintana Newton: That’s right.

Atencio: The Class of 19—

Quintana Newton: ’42.

Isabel Torres's Interview

[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Willie Atencio: Can you tell us about your parents and where they lived? 

Isabel Torres: You want the names of them too?

Atencio: Yes, please. 

Torres: My father’s name was Manuel Antonio Vigil, and my mother’s name was Carmelita Esquivel Vigil.

Esther Vigil's Interview

[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Willie Atencio: Okay, we’ll try to do this informally. First of all, can you tell us about where you were born and who your parents were?

Esther Vigil: I was born in San Pedro. My mother was Maria Teofila Ortiz Lujan, and my father was Pedro Jose Lujan.

Atencio: Did you go to school in the Española Valley before?

Kennette Benedict's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. This is November 17, 2016, in Chicago, Illinois. I have with me Kennette Benedict, and the first thing I’m going to ask her is to say her name and spell it.

Kennette Benedict: Kennette Benedict. K-e-n-n-e-t-t-e, Benedict, B-e-n-e-d-i-c-t.

Kelly: Great. Thank you, Kennette, for being here. Why don’t we start with just a little something about who you are and why we’ve invited you here today.

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