Los Alamos scientists Paul Stein and Nicholas Metropolis play chess with the MANIAC I computer, 1950s.

The Manhattan Project was a crucible for innovation. Scientists and engineers filed patents for some  5,600 inventions  in secret during the Manhattan Project, with  2,100 inventions receiving U.S. patents. 

Thanks to a generous grant from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Foundation, the Atomic Heritage Foundation is beginning  work on a new Ranger in Your Pocket program on the technologies developed at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. We look forward to telling the story of these innovations and their complex and lasting impact on modern science and society. 
Innovations"Los Alamos Innovations" Program

The SUPO, the most powerful version of the Water Boiler Reactor, at Los Alamos in the 1950s. Image courtesy of LANL.
The Atomic Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce that we have received a grant from the IEEE Foundation to s
upport a Ranger in Your Pocket program on "Los Alamos Innovations." The program will focus on seven seminal technologies associated with the Manhattan Project.

One example is the developments in computer science led by Nicholas Metropolis, John von Neumann, Richard Feynman and others. These developments were the foundation for the postwar revolution in computer science, scientific research and the computer industry. 

The "Ranger" will also highlight innovations required to harness atomic energy for the atomic bombs and nuclear reactors, such as the pioneering Water Boiler Reactor (above). Other developments involved electronics, radiation detection and measurement, health physics and high-speed photography.
The program will incorporate first-hand accounts by scientists and engineers explaining the challenges they faced and how they approached them. Drawing from interviews with leading historians of science and other experts, the vignettes will provide multiple perspectives on the impacts of these innovations over the course of the last seven decades.
AHF will be working closely with the IEEE Los Alamos/Northern New Mexico Section and other partners on the project. AHF's Cindy Kelly and Alex Levy will be visiting New Mexico to kickstart the project and record interviews with veterans and experts. We are grateful to the IEEE Foundation for its generous support.
BirthdaysHappy Birthday, Ed Westcott and Jim Forde!
Ed Westcott with AHF President Cindy Kelly
Two Manhattan Project veterans recently celebrated milestone birthdays.
On January 21, Oak Ridgers celebrated the 95th birthday of famed Manhattan Project photographer Ed Westcott. Westcott was the official US Army photographer for the Oak Ridge, Tennessee site during the Manhattan Project. In thousands of photographs, he documented the construction and operations of the "Secret City." He also captured the lives of Oak Ridgers, from the Y-12 "calutron girls" to young people socializing at the Wildcat Den. More than 5,000 of Westcott's early negatives are now in the National Archives.
After the war, Westcott stayed in Oak Ridge as an employee of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). Westcott retired in 1977 after a phenomenal career as a photographer. As city historian D. Ray Smith told attendees at his birthday celebration, "Ed is a hero of mine. If I didn't have Ed's photographs, I could not tell the history of Oak Ridge."
In October 2016, AHF met Ed when he visited Washington, DC on an HonorAir Knoxville flight. You can see some of Westcott's photographs on the Photography of Ed Westcott Tumblr. Oak Ridge Today and WBIR also covered his birthday celebration.
James Forde
James Forde, one of the youngest Manhattan Project veterans, turned 90 on January 23. He was just 17 when he was hired by the Union Carbide and Carbon Company as a lab assistant in 1944. He worked at the Nash Garage Building at Columbia University, where scientists worked on developing the gaseous diffusion process. Forde recalled being the lone African-American in the midst of many Ph.D. scientists.
Forde was unaware that he was contributing to the development of an atomic bomb. "The main job that I had was cleaning tubes in a sulfuric acid bath. I did not know what the tubes were for or anything about the purpose of the research. When I saw the headline that we had dropped an atomic bomb, I said, "'Oh, my God. That is what I was working on!'"
After the war, Forde worked for CBS and later became Director of Health Services for the county of San Diego. He has spent many years working with state and local organizations to improve healthcare for minorities and the poor. To watch Forde's oral history interview with AHF, click here.
The Atomic Heritage Foundation wishes Ed and Jim a very happy birthday!
SnodgrassAHF Receives Donation of Snodgrass Collection
A photo from the Snodgrass Collection
The Atomic Heritage Foundation recently received a donation of a collection of memorabilia belonging to Private First Class James B. Snodgrass. Snodgrass served as a member of the Mounted Military Police working on site security at Los Alamos and the Trinity test site.
Snodgrass was born on March 29, 1919 in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Prior to serving at Los Alamos, he was a member of the Tennessee National Guard. In 1943, Snodgrass enlisted as a Military Policeman (MP) and was assigned to the 9812th Technical Service Unit at Los Alamos. He worked as a standing and mounted guard protecting the secret city, including highway patrol. According to his son, Snodgrass ventured out to the Trinity test site with another MP only hours after the blast and recalled green glass crunching under their feet.
The collection includes 121 photos, participation and discharge papers, and a declassified report on Project Trinity. The photographs were taken by PFC Snodgrass during his time at Los Alamos and Trinity, and were developed shortly after his discharge in 1946. In addition to showing the Trinity site itself, they give an inside glimpse into the life of the MPs, displaying their friendships and recreational activities, including many MPs on horseback playing polo.
For more about Snodgrass and to view a selection of photographs from the collection, please  click hereThe Atomic Heritage Foundation would like to express its sincere gratitude to Quentin Reynolds for donating this wonderful collection.
Reykjavik"Reykjavik" at American Physical Society
From left: actors Al Twanmo and David Bryan Jackson, director Kelsey Phelps, and Federation of American Scientists President Charles Ferguson answer questions about the play.

On January 29, the American Physical Society (APS) organized a stage reading of AHF Board Member Richard Rhodes's play "Reykjavik" at the APS Meeting in Washington, DC. AHF's Alexandra Levy and Nathaniel Weisenberg attended the event.

"Reykjavik" portrays the October 1986 summit in Iceland between U.S. President Ronald Reagan (David Bryan Jackson) and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev (Al Twanmo). Unexpectedly, the two leaders came close to reaching an agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons. While the Reykjavik summit was called a "failure" because Reagan and Gorbachev did not reach a deal, numerous historians consider it an important step in ending the Cold War.

Rhodes's play is based on both the U.S. and Soviet minutes from the conference. It features only two characters, Reagan and Gorbachev, who spend most of the time seated around a conference table. They argue over thorny issues such as the Strategic Defense Initiative, which ultimately prevented the two sides from reaching an agreement. However, the two leaders clearly develop a personal bond, sharing stories from their childhoods and laying the groundwork for future negotiations. At the end of the play, both leaders face the press - and the audience - with a mixture of disappointment and hope.

After the performance, both actors, director Kelsey Phelps, and Charles Ferguson, President of the Federation of American Scientists, participated in a talkback with the audience. The panel discussed how they recreated the drama of the Reykjavik summit and its relevance for today. With tense US-Russian relations and continued concerns about nuclear weapons, "Reykjavik" is certainly timely. AHF congratulates APS and the Tonic Theater Company on a terrific performance.
RoundupHistory Article Roundup
Several thought-provoking articles were published in the past month on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, World War II, and Cold War history.
  • Passions Flare Over Memory of the Manhattan Project: NPR's "Weekend Edition" reports on the ongoing debate over how to interpret the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. "I have no illusions that it's going to be easy or that it's going to be without conflict," commented Tracy Atkins, the Department of Energy liaison to the park and former Manhattan Project NHP interim superintendent. "We're starting to grapple with some of the more challenging aspects of our national history and the Park Service is in a unique place to do that."
Voices"Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Here are some oral history interviews we have recently added to the  Voices of the Manhattan Project website

Roger Fulling - Part 3: Fulling  was the Division Superintendent of Construction at DuPont during the Manhattan Project. In this interview, he discusses the various positions he held at DuPont during and after the war. He recalls a special request from the Australian government for smokeless powder that DuPont had to fulfill. He explains the other wartime work of the DuPont Company and how DuPont had to balance its Manhattan Project work with its other military contracts.

Louis Hempelmann - Part 3: Hempelmann was J. Robert Oppenheimer's physician and close friend. In this interview, he discusses the hierarchy at Los Alamos, what it was like to work with Kitty Oppenheimer, and Kitty and Robert's relationship. He recalls his interactions with Oppie, Enrico and Laura Fermi, and Edward Teller, and the parties that Oppenheimer and others used to throw at Los Alamos. Hempelmann remembers driving to Trinity Site with George Kistiakowsky and the high explosives-on Friday the 13th.


Verna Hobson - Part 3: Hobson worked as a secretary for J. Robert Oppenheimer at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. Her tenure as his secretary coincided with Oppenheimer's investigation by the Atomic Energy Commission. In this interview, she shares her interactions with the Oppenheimer family. She provides insight into Kitty Oppenheimer's personality, and how Kitty and Robert interacted with each other and their children, Peter and Toni.

Joe Holt was a construction worker at Hanford Site during the Manhattan Project. He was called "Honey Joe" because of his bee business, which he went into after he left Hanford. DuPont transferred Holt from a construction job in Indiana to Hanford in 1943. At Hanford, Holt worked building the B Reactor and laying graphite. He settled with his wife Lois in a house on the side of a hill above the Yakima River on the west edge of Richland. 
Thanks to all the Manhattan Project veterans, their families and many others who have supported our efforts over the past 15 years. Your contributions enable us to continue to preserve and interpret this complex history.

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