The Manhattan Project

Emilio Segre

Bruce Cameron Reed's Interview

Cindy Kelly:​ This is Monday, January 30th, 2017. I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. We are in Washington, D.C., with Bruce Cameron Reed. If you could say your name for us and spell it.

Bruce Cameron Reed: Bruce Cameron Reed, B-R-U-C-E  C-A-M-E-R-O-N  R-E-E-D.

Kelly:​ Great. Bruce, tell us about yourself. I know you’re a professor at Alma College, but maybe you could start at the beginning—when and where you were born and how you got interested in science.

Bruce Cameron Reed

Bruce Cameron Reed is a physicist and a professor at Alma College. In this interview, he discusses a course he teaches at Alma about nuclear weapons and the Manhattan Project. He explains how he became interested in the physics and history of the Manhattan Project. He provides an overview of some of the challenges the Manhattan Project scientists faced and why uranium, plutonium, and polonium are so difficult to work with.

Robert Bacher's Interview - Part 2

Robert Bacher: I presented this [the discovery of the neutron] in the seminar and there were a good many questions. Some people were skeptical. I convinced Ed Condon almost immediately. In fact, within the week we had written a note together on the spin of the neutron because you could work it out. This part of it fit into the things of nuclear spins, hyperfine structure, nuclear moments, and so on. A good many other people came around to it. I think more than half the people were convinced at that time.

Jean Bacher's Interview

Jean Bacher: Ruth Valentine said, “I shall take Ruth [Tolman]’s desk.” She always saved letters. She had marvelous long letters from Robert, you know, especially at the time of the hearings. I knew they were just terribly close and shared a great deal. On the drawer of the desk, she’d said, “Destroy these.”

Martin Sherwin: You saw it happen? 

Bacher: I didn’t see her burn it, because at that time we still burned and they just threw them out in the burner in the back yard.

Harry Allen and Robert Van Gemert's Interview

Harry Allen: Mr. Wilson and company set us up a purchase request for a barber chair, because they couldn’t get off work in time to get their hair done.

Robert Van Gemert:  There was only one man cutting hair, I think, up there.

Allen: The barber service was extremely limited, and we just happen to know where there was an old barber chair down in the old engineers’ warehouse. So we sent the truck driver down, and we delivered one barber chair down to the cyclotron building. 

Louis Rosen's Interview

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

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. 

Stanislaus Ulam's Interview (1983)

Richard Rhodes: An interview with Dr. Stanislaw Ulam in Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 6, 1983.

Rhodes: Well I have some questions for you.

Ulam: Yes, of course. How long are you staying?

Rhodes: I am going to be in the area for until Saturday morning. It would be pleasant to see more of you. I thought I would go out to Los Alamos today and stay up there.

Ulam: There is a hotel.

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