Seventy-five years ago this week, the X-10 Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge, Tennessee went critical. The first nuclear reactor designed for continuous operation, X-10 was a pilot plant, meant in part to be a proof-of-concept for larger scale nuclear reactors. “This was the very first time in human history that mankind was handling radioactivity on this enormous scale,” recalled physicist Alvin Weinberg . “It was the first reactor in which sizeable amounts—meaning gram quantities—of plutonium were produced. It produced about one gram of plutonium per day.”

To learn more about the X-10 Graphite Reactor, watch AHF’s beta “Ranger in Your Pocket” program on Oak Ridge . AHF will soon produce a new program on “Oak Ridge Innovations” that will address the history of nuclear reactors and other scientific developments at Oak Ridge National Laboratory since World War II.
  • Manhattan Project Sites News
  • In Memoriam: Bill Coors
  • Ada Lovelace Day
  • AHF's Online Store
  • History Article Roundup
  • "Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Manhattan Project Sites News: October 2018
On October 18, Oak Ridge’s popular American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) opened in its new location at 115 Main Street East. Since 1975, the museum had been at 300 S. Tulane Avenue in a 55,000 square foot building. The new AMSE building is much smaller, but includes updated exhibits and displays. (Pictured: The ribbon cutting ceremony. Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office).

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel , “Visitors who go in order will move from an introductory area with a globe and a 7-minute video about Oak Ridge to the Manhattan Project and National Security, and from there to a Big Science display that includes exhibits about a number of Oak Ridge facilities and research projects. The last two sections of the museum deal with energy leadership and environmental restoration.” There are interactive and multimedia displays that should engage students and the public on history and STEM topics.
Some favorite items from the previous building made the move, including AMSE’s beloved Van der Graaff generator. The new building includes “lab” classrooms, a gallery, a space for traveling exhibits, and an auditorium. Julia Bussinger, the director of AMSE, explained to the Knoxville News Sentinel, “The new space is very immersive…We are a science museum — we have to lead. We’re this inspirational spark for future scientists.”

AMSE is open seven days a week. The U.S. Department of Energy’s facilities public bus tours, open from March through November, are now leaving from the new AMSE building. For more on the grand opening and new exhibits, please see New, smaller American Museum of Science and Energy surrounds visitors with history, hands-on science and Oak Ridge's American Museum of Science and Energy reopens at new location
Heather McClenahan, the executive director of the Los Alamos Historical Society (LAHS), has announced she will retire from full-time museum work in April 2019 to pursue new ventures and to travel. AHF has very much enjoyed working with Heather over the years. We are particularly grateful for her partnership on the Voices of the Manhattan Project website, a joint project between AHF and LAHS. In addition, Heather is featured in our “ Ranger in Your Pocket” programs for Los Alamos and has been a valuable partner on preservation projects. Congratulations to Heather and best wishes for her next adventure! For more, see this Los Alamos Daily Post article . (Pictured: Heather leading a tour at Los Alamos).
The Hanford History Project has published a new book, Nowhere to Remember: Hanford, White Bluffs and Richland to 1943 . Edited by Washington State University Tri-Cities professor Robert Bauman and Hanford History Project oral historian and archivist Robert Franklin, Nowhere to Remember uses oral history interviews to explore the lives of the people who lived in the Hanford area before the arrival of the Manhattan Project in 1943. The book highlights life in agricultural communities, the experiences of women, and the stories of people evicted from their lands by the Manhattan Project’s production facilities. You can purchase the book here. (Pictured: the shell of Hanford High School.)
In Memoriam: Bill Coors
Manhattan Project veteran William “Bill” K. Coors passed away on October 13, 2018. Coors was born August 11, 1916 in Golden, Colorado. His grandfather, Adolph Coors, was the founder of the Coors Brewing Company.

Coors graduated from Princeton University in 1938 with a degree in chemical engineering. Immediately afterwards, he began working for the Coors Porcelain Company, a company owned by his family, and worked on porcelain insulators. During World War II, Coors received an urgent call.  He remembered , “A voice introduced himself as Rick Condit, working for Lawrence Radiation Laboratory. He said, ‘We need insulators. We can’t wait that long. I’ll send you a drawing. You’re not supposed to copy it, show it to anybody, or talk to anybody about this. It’s a very secret project.’ 

Coors recalled, “I got a drawing in the mail. Fortunately, it was an easy item to make. I had the insulators on the way in five days.” These insulators were used in the Y-12 Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to aid in electromagnetically separating uranium isotopes.

Upon being asked if Oak Ridge ever told him that his insulators worked, Coors simply replied, “No,” and added, “We just got orders for insulators. We had the entire Coors Porcelain facility converted to insulator development, manufacturing. Just to keep pace with Oak Ridge demand.”

After the war, Coors worked for his grandfather’s brewing company and eventually served as Chairman from 1961 to 2003. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management presented Coors with the Energy Secretary’s Appreciation Award for his Manhattan Project work. For more about Coors and his involvement with the Manhattan Project, you can watch his interview on AHF’s  Voices of the Manhattan Project  website and read his profile on the  Atomic Heritage Foundation  website. 
Ada Lovelace Day
October 9, 2018 was Ada Lovelace Day, which commemorates the achievements of women scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Many women worked on the Manhattan Project. Some worked in the production facilities as technicians, monitoring for leaks or adjusting the controls of the Calutrons at Oak Ridge; a small number of women were scientists involved at the highest levels of the project.

Anne McKusick worked at the Y-12 Plant. When I got to Oak Ridge, it was perhaps not surprising that there were no girls who were physicists,” she remembered. “I remember somebody saying to me once, ‘You consider that you're a girl who happens to be a physicist, or a physicist who happens to be a girl?’ It was just that women weren’t thought to be capable of learning the subject, or thought that it was strictly a man’s field at that time.”

To read more excerpts from interviews with women who were involved on various portions of the project, click here
 AHF’s Online Store
Starting to look for holiday gifts for a history-loving family member or friend? Be sure to visit AHF’s online store! We sell a variety of Manhattan Project  books documentary films posters notecards , and  apparel .

New this year is our revised and expanded Guide to the Manhattan Project in Washington State . Colorful and easy-to-read, the guidebook uses photographs and excerpts from AHF’s extensive oral history collection to bring to life the experiences of Hanford, WA area residents before, during, and after World War II. New sections address Native American history, the contributions of African-Americans to the Manhattan Project, Hanford’s environmental legacy, and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. You can also purchase guidebooks to Manhattan Project sites in New Mexico , Tennessee , and Manhattan , or buy all of the guidebooks as a set .

Our popular 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 with an introduction by Richard Rhodes, is also available on the online store.

If you would like a special dedication included in a book, we are happy to oblige for no extra cost. Thanks for your interest and support for our work!
History Article Roundup
Here is a roundup of some of the most interesting content published recently on the Manhattan Project, World War II, and nuclear history:

$40 billion in savings or more risk left at Hanford? Feds rethink radioactive waste : The Tri-City Herald reports on the debate over reclassifying what is considered high-level radioactive waste at the Hanford Site. The reclassification could make it easier for some waste to be shipped from Hanford to other sites. 

In Hiroshima, atomic bomb survivors are available to tell their story to anyone who will listen : A profile of Kazuhiko Futagawa, whose sister and father were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Futagawa and other hibakusha (literally “atomic bomb-affected people” ) meet with visitors at a café in Hiroshima to share their stories.
Joachim Ronneberg, Leader of Raid That Thwarted a Nazi Atomic Bomb, Dies at 99 : Joachim Ronneberg passed away at age 99 on October 21. In 1943, he led a daring raid with commandos from the Norwegian resistance that succeeded in blowing up the heavy water production cells at the Norsk Hydro Plant. The raid's success helped to stymie the Nazis' plans to use heavy water in their atomic bomb project.

Lecture: War, Peace, and Moore’s “Atom Piece” : At the Yale Museum of British Art, art historian Anne Wagner discussed the Henry Moore sculpture known as “Atom Piece” or “Nuclear Energy,” (pictured), which marks the site of Chicago Pile-1.
Women's Work: Joan Hinton and the Manhattan Project : The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a fascinating audio documentary on the life of Joan Hinton, the American physicist (pictured) who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos and left the United States to move to China in 1948.

The Japanese Man Who Saved 6,000 Jews With His Handwriting : In The New York Times , Rabbi David Wolpe paid tribute to Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat in Lithuania who saved thousands of Jews during World War II.
"Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Here are some oral history interviews we have recently published on the  Voices of the Manhattan Project website
Roger Cloutier moved to Oak Ridge in 1959 to work for ORINS, the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (now Oak Ridge Associated Universities, or ORAU), and went on to serve as director of ORAU’s Professional Training Programs. In this interview, Cloutier recalls his career at ORAU and describes the medical innovations he was a part of, including advances in the use of radioisotopes to treat disease. He gives a history of other programs at ORAU, and explains how ORINS was started at the suggestion of Manhattan Project physicist Katharine Way.
James S. Cole is an American engineer. He served as an airplane engineer during World War II, and began working at the K-25 plant at Oak Ridge, TN in 1945, shortly after the end of the war. Cole later worked at the Y-12 plant. In this interview, he recalls his early days at Oak Ridge and how he adjusted to the new environment. He shares several stories about his time working at K-25, including finding ways to fix broken pumps and valves. He also explains the importance of the Special Engineer Detachment and members of the military to the Manhattan Project.
Gordon Fee is the retired president of Lockheed Martin Energy Systems and the former manager of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, TN. He began working at Oak Ridge at the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant in 1956. In this interview, he describes his career at Oak Ridge, and shares stories about his work at Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). In particular, he focuses on scientific developments connected with Oak Ridge, including the growth of the Nuclear Navy, the use of radioisotopes in medicine, and more. He also discusses the challenges of trying to explain Oak Ridge’s complex history to the public.
Liane B. Russell is a renowned geneticist. Born in Vienna, Austria, she and her family managed to flee the country after its annexation by Nazi Germany. After moving to the United States, Russell became interested in biological research. In 1947, she and her husband, William L. Russell, moved to Oak Ridge. In this interview, Russell explains her experiments on the effects of radiation at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s “Mouse House,” including the discovery that the Y chromosome is sex-determining. She describes her work with the environmental movement and the efforts of Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning, which she co-founded. She also recalls winning the Enrico Fermi Award from the Department of Energy and a visit to communist East Germany in the 1980s.
Shigeko Uppuluri was born in Kyoto, Japan and lived in Shanghai, China during World War II. She came to the United States for graduate school, where she met her husband, mathematician Ram Uppuluri. The couple moved to Oak Ridge, TN in 1963. In this interview, Uppuluri tells the story of the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell, a symbol of peace and reconciliation between Japan and the United States. She describes how she and her husband launched the effort to build the Bell, the opposition they faced, and the new Peace Pavilion for the Bell in Oak Ridge’s Bissell Park.
Bill Wilcox was an original resident of Oak Ridge, TN, and served as the Official Historian for the City of Oak Ridge. A chemistry graduate from Washington & Lee University in 1943, he was hired by the Tennessee Eastman Company on a secret project in an unknown location he and his friends nicknamed “Dogpatch.” He worked with uranium, which was referred to only by its codename “Tuballoy.” Wilcox worked at Y-12 for five years and then at K-25 for 20 years, retiring as Technical Director for Union Carbide Nuclear Division. Wilcox actively promoted preservation of the “Secret City” history through the Oak Ridge Heritage & Preservation Association and by founding the Partnership for K-25 Preservation. He also published several books on Oak Ridge, including a history of Y-12 and “Opening the Gates of the Secret City.”
It is hard to believe, but we are already approaching the end of the year. Please consider supporting AHF's work with a generous donation this holiday season . You make it possible to record and share oral histories, develop educational resources for students, and much, much more. Please do your part to help preserve and interpret this history for future generations. Thank you very much!
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