Seventy-six years ago today, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a  surprise attack against the U.S. Pacific Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor, HI. The strike killed 2,403 American civilians and military personnel and wounded 1,178 others. The next day, Congress declared war against Japan; a few days later, Nazi Germany and Italy declared war against the United States. 

In our article  Remembering Pearl Harbor,  some of the Manhattan Project veterans we have interviewed recall the impact the attack on Pearl Harbor had, both on their own life and the US at large.  Dorothy Wilkinson , who worked as a "Calutron girl" at the Y-12 Plant in Oak Ridge during the war, lost her brother on the USS Arizona. "I joined the Manhattan Project when I graduated high school because I had a brother killed on the Arizona at Pearl Harbor, and I thought that I would like to do something for the war effort."

Today, the USS Arizona Memorial is part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The above photo of the Memorial was taken by AHF's Alexandra Levy from the deck of the USS Missouri, the site of the official Japanese surrender in World War II on September 2, 1945.

CP-1Chicago Pile-1 Anniversary
CP-1 under construction
December 2, 2017, was the 75th anniversary of the Chicago Pile-1 going critical at the University of Chicago. One of the most important branches of the far-flung Manhattan Project was the Metallurgical Laboratory or "Met Lab" at UChicago. Its primary role was to design a nuclear reactor, created through chain-reacting piles. The Met Lab's most notable accomplishment was the Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1), where the world's first controlled nuclear chain reaction took place.

Enrico Fermi, an  Italian refugee physicist who came to New York City in late 1938, studied the fundamentals of fission and worked on how to control a nuclear reaction at Columbia University. Joining the Met Lab in Chicago, Fermi and his associates began designing a production pile and built a lattice of graphite blocks and uranium slugs in a squash court under the west stands of Stagg Field. His goal was to create a self-sustaining nuclear reaction, when the reactor had a reproduction value (k) of one.

Enrico Fermi
On the afternoon of December 2, 1942, Chicago Pile-1 went critical. It demonstrated a k value of 1.0006, and was allowed to reach a thermal output of 0.5 watts (ultimately it operated at 200 watts maximum). The continuous chain reaction was witnessed by Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, Leona Woods Marshall, and DuPont engineer Crawford Greenewalt along with dozens of others. Fermi's basic design would be expanded and built at Hanford as the B Reactor.

Fermi later said, "The event would not have seemed in any way spectacular to a casual observer. You would have seen a large black graphite structure, of which there is a scale model, supported in part by a scaffolding of wooden beams. You would have seen a number of people reading instruments and recording their results. Perhaps you might not even have noticed many signs of excitement in their faces."

Chicago Pile-1 scientists 
on the steps of Eckhart Hall
UChicago commemorated the CP-1 anniversary with a series of events, "Nuclear Reactions." Former Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz was a keynote speaker. The Making of the Atomic Bomb author R ichard Rhodes'  keynote talk can be read here. UChicago also produced a video, Nuclear Reactions, on the Met Lab and its legacy for today.

AHF President Cindy Kelly attended the symposium. " UChicago orchestrated a wonderful program for the 75th anniversary of the Chicago Pile-1," she said. "The events included speakers on different issues with musical performances and art to capture the hopes and fears generated by the control of nuclear energy."

Other events featured renowned nuclear historians and experts, including Gino Segrè and Bettina Hoerlin, authors of The Pope of Physics: Enrico Fermi and the Birth of the Atomic Age, and William Lanouette, author of Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb. Lanouette's talk can be watched here

For more on the Chicago Pile-1, the Met Lab, and their legacies for today, please visit our "Ranger in Your Pocket" program on the University of Chicago.
MPSitesManhattan Project Sites News
T he Hans Bethe House
There are exciting initiatives underway at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MPNHP) sites. The Los Alamos Daily Post reported that 2016 saw a record number of visits to New Mexico, and tourism-related spending increased as well. Los Alamos is continuing to enjoy an influx in tourists, thanks in part to the recently established MPNHP.

In mid-November, Los Alamos hosted the New Mexico Association of Museums annual conference, attended by over 75 museum professionals. Kris Kirby, Manhattan Project National Historical Park Superintendent, was the keynote speaker at the opening of the conference, discussing the important work of the National Park Service and museums. An evening reception was held at the Los Alamos History Museum's Hans Bethe House. Partners and sponsors for the conference included the Bradbury Science Museum, Los Alamos History Museum, Los Alamos National Bank, Los Alamos County, and others.

Ray Smith in front of the Alexander Guest House
Ray Smith, who worked at the Y-12 National Security Complex for 48 years and has served as the Y-12 historian since 2005, has officially retired. In honor of his role in helping to create the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, Smith was awarded the U.S. Department of Energy Gold Medal Award on November 20. R etired Lieutenant General Frank Klotz, DOE under-secretary for nuclear security and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, presented Smith with the award. 

Although he is retiring, Smith will continue to be active in Oak Ridge as the City of Oak Ridge's official historian. He was also recently selected to serve on the Tennessee Historical Commission, and is the vice president of the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association. We are very pleased that he also recently accepted AHF's offer to join our Board of Directors. Congratulations, Ray!

An African-American baseball player at Hanford
At Hanford, Washington State University Tri-Cities has been awarded a $73,000 grant from the National Park Service for a project on African-Americans and civil rights. WSU Tri-Cities will record oral histories with African-Americans who worked at Hanford during and after World War II and family members, and conduct related research. 

"What we hope is we are laying a foundation for scholars in the years to come to build on," Michael Mays, WSU Tri-Cities director of the Hanford History Project, said in the Tri-City Herald. This is a very important project and AHF applauds the work of the WSU Tri-Cities, the Hanford History Project, and their local partners.

A fence by the 300 Area at Hanford Site
In other Hanford news, the American Nuclear Society awarded the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Radiochemical Processing Laboratory with its Nuclear Historic Landmark Award. Located in the 300 Area at Hanford Site, the lab works on isotope separations for industrial, medical and national security use; processes waste from the Hanford environmental cleanup; and is the only U.S. lab certified by the International Monitoring System of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization.
LilliIn Memoriam: Lilli Hornig
On November 17, 2017, our friend and Manhattan Project veteran Lilli Hornig passed away at the age of 96. A chemist, she worked on plutonium chemistry and explosives at Los Alamos, NM during World War II.

Lilli was born in Czechoslovakia. She and her family moved to Berlin in 1929. But after Hitler's rise to power, her father, who was Jewish, was threatened with imprisonment in a concentration camp. In a 2011 interview with AHF, Lilli recalled, "He spent several weeks sleeping at friends' houses so he wouldn't be found, and he left for America." Lilli and her mother joined her father in the USA a few months later.

Lilli's Los Alamos ID badge photo
After deciding at a young age that she wanted to be a chemist, she received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Bryn Mawr College in 1942 and a Master's degree in chemistry from Harvard in 1943. That same year she married Donald Hornig, a doctoral student in chemistry. Don was  initially hesitant to accept an unspecified job in an unspecified place . Lilli explained their recruitment into the Manhattan Project: "George Kistiakowsky called. With a few curses, which was very much his style, he said, 'Dammit, you come out here.' Don brought that news home, and that sounded pretty interesting to me and did to him too, obviously."  

At Los Alamos, Lilli conducted research on plutonium chemistry. She recalled being bluntly fired from the chemistry department: "There was one other woman in the division...Then they got the first results from Hanford with the bad news about plutonium-240, which was much more active than 239. The first response was to fire both of us instantly. I complained a bit about that. They were worried obviously about reproductive damage. I tried delicately to point out that they might be more susceptible than I was; that didn't go over well. But I guess I wasn't very good at handling things like that."

Don babysitting the Gadget in the Trinity tower
Don spent the night before the Trinity Test famously babysitting the bomb while reading a book. Lilli had not been formally invited to witness the test, so she and several other scientists drove up Sandia Mountain to watch. She recalled the test: "Vivid colors like violet, purple, orange, yellow, red, just everything. It was fantastic. We were all kind of shaken up."

After the war, Lilli earned a PhD in chemistry at Harvard. She served as chairwoman of the chemistry department at what is now Trinity Washington University. A strong advocate for women scholars, she spoke out forcefully against hiring discrimination against women scientists. Lilli founded Higher Education Resource Services, which conducts research into discrimination against women and challenges sexism in hiring. She also became the first director of the Committee on the Education and Employment of Women in Science and Engineering at the National Academy of Sciences, and served on the Committee for the Equality of Women at Harvard.
OnlineStoreBuy Holiday Gifts at AHF's Online Store

Looking for a great holiday gift for a history buff? Check out AHF's online store! We sell a variety of Manhattan Project books, documentary films, posters, notecards, and apparel.

One of our most popular items is our 2007 anthology, The Manhattan Project: The Birth of the Atomic Bomb in the Words of Its Creators, Eyewitnesses, and Historians. Edited by AHF President Cindy Kelly and with an introduction by Richard Rhodes, the book includes gripping firsthand accounts of the Manhattan Project. Our set of guidebooks to Manhattan Project sites in New Mexico, Tennessee, Washington State, and Manhattan continues to be very popular.

In 2016, we began selling T-shirts of Manhattan Project sites, featuring the "Gadget" at Trinity Site, the Los Alamos Main Gate, Hanford's B Reactor, and Oak Ridge's Chapel on the Hill. The designs can also be found on our posters and notecards.

If you would like a special dedication included in a book, or if you would like an item gift-wrapped, we are happy to oblige for no extra cost. Thanks for your interest!
RoundupHistory Article Roundup
Raemer Schreiber's Los Alamos ID photo
Here is a roundup of some of the most interesting arti cles published on Manhattan Project, World War II, and Cold War history and science news this month.

- Brothers in Arms: The Washington Post reports on a cache of World War II letters from four brothers that were recently discovered in an abandoned storage unit.

- Oregon's secretive, and indispensable, Manhattan Project scientist finally gets the spotlight: The Oregonian profiles Raemer Schreiber, a leading Manhattan Project physicist and Oregon native. A forthcoming documentary, " The Half-Life of Genius: Physicist Raemer Schreiber," will premiere next year.

- Remembering LaikaHistorian Alex Wellerstein has an essay in  The New Yorker  on Laika, the dog sent into space by the Soviet Union as part of Sputnik 2 sixty years ago.

Operation Crossroads nuclear test 
at Bikini, 1946
- The Forgotten Women Scientists Who Fled the Holocaust for the United StatesThe Rediscovering the Refugee Scholars project is a research effort by  Northeastern University  focusing on the scholars who fled anti-Semitic persecution in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s and applied for assistance from the American Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars.

- What Bikini Atoll Looks Like Today: The Stanford Magazine describes what the Bikini Atoll, where the US conducted 23 nuclear weapons tests, looks like today, and how the tests have affected the flora and fauna of the area.

- What Would Enrico Fermi Think Of Science Today?: David Schwartz, author of a new book on Enrico Fermi, extrapolates what Fermi would think of advances in science today.
Here are some oral history interviews we have recently published on the  Voices of the Manhattan Project website

Abe Krash was the editor of The Chicago Maroon, the student newspaper, at the University of Chicago during the Manhattan Project. In this interview, he recalls how he ran afoul of Manhattan Project security regulations after the Maroon published an article about physicist and Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory director Arthur Compton. Krash discusses the impact Robert Maynard Hutchins had as the president of the University of Chicago and his interactions with Lawrence Kimpton, the Chicago Met Lab's chief administrative officer. 

Frank Settle is an analytical chemist and professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University. He is the author of General George C. Marshall and the Atomic Bomb. In this interview, Settle discusses General Marshall's life before, during, and after World War II. Settle also highlights Marshall's leadership, his involvement with the Manhattan Project, and his lack of confidence in the atomic bomb. As a chemist, Settle also talks about the importance of chemistry in the Manhattan Project and his latest work on an atomic road map, part of the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues.

Jennet Conant is an author who has written extensively on the Manhattan Project and some of its most prominent figures. In this interview, Conant describes some of the stories she writes about in her book 109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos. She focuses on the life of Dorothy McKibbin, the "Gatekeeper to Los Alamos," and her contributions to the Los Alamos laboratory during the war. She also discusses the Trinity Site and Klaus Fuchs's espionage.

Margaret Norman is the eldest daughter of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ernest O. Lawrence. In this interview, Norman describes her father's childhood, and how her parents met. She recalls what it was like to grow up as the eldest daughter of six children. She describes visiting the laboratory at Berkeley where her father worked, and finding out about the atomic bombs and Ernest's involvement. Margaret also recalls her father's friendship with J. Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller, and other scientists, and explains that he could never really relax because he was always thinking about science.
With the 75th anniversary of the Manhattan Project upon us, we are delighted to receive a generous $198,000 grant from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust. However, we need your help to  raise $98,000 to meet Murdock's challenge matching requirement. 
With your generous  donation, you  will enable us to capture the recollections of Manhattan Project participants before it is too late and develop interpretive programs on Hanford, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, Santa Fe, and the Trinity Site. We have an ambitious agenda and every contribution counts!

Thanks very much for your help as we work to commemorate the 75th anniversary.

Atomic Heritage Foundation 
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