October 10, 2017 was Ada Lovelace Day, which commemorates the achievements of women scientists,engineers, mathematicians, and technicians such as the MANIAC I operators pictured above. 

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.  For more information, please see our article Women Scientists in the Manhattan Project

AHF Launches Program on "Los Alamos Innovations"
The Harvard cyclotron at Los Alamos
The Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) is pleased to launch a new online interpretive program, Los Alamos Innovations, with 50 audio/visual vignettes. The program addresses the technologies developed at the Manhattan Project's weapons laboratory in Los Alamos, NM, and their lasting impact on modern science and society. The program is part of AHF's Ranger in Your Pocket series on the Manhattan Project, which focuses on former Manhattan Project sites and features vignettes with eyewitness accounts and expert commentary.

Scientists and engineers created 5,600 different inventions relating to the atomic bomb, resulting in some 2,100 separate U.S. patent applications filed in secret during the war. Los Alamos Innovations describes how Manhattan Project workers adapted various technologies, many of which were then in their infancy, as they worked to build the world's first atomic bombs. After the war, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) continued research into computing, health physics, and other fields that grew out of or contributed to the Manhattan Project.

The V-Site at Los Alamos, where the "Gadget" was assembled before the Trinity Test
The program highlights the challenges Manhattan Project scientists faced in building a first-of-a-kind weapon they believed would help end World War II. Laboratory director J. Robert Oppenheimer recalls designing the "Fat Man" or implosion bomb, "I think the set of problems connected with implosion was the most difficult. It required very new experimental techniques." Because of these concerns, Manhattan Project leaders decided to test the "Gadget" at the Trinity Site on July 16, 1945.

To record the Trinity Test, the Optics group developed new high-speed photographic techniques. Berlyn Brixner and other members of the photography team set up 50 cameras, most of them high-speed motion picture cameras. Brixner says, "We got a complete record with those motion picture cameras of the whole explosion. Something like 100,000 pictures were taken."

Camera work at Trinity Site, 1945
Designing and engineering the atomic bombs required complex, intricate mathematical calculations. Early IBM calculating machines, bulky forerunners of modern computers, arrived in spring 1945. Manhattan Project physicist Nicholas Metropolis explains, "When the IBMs came along, we converted them into doing a lot of problems." Stanley Hall recalls using punch cards for programming: "You can do things now that you wouldn't even think of doing back then. There wouldn't be room in the house for all the cards."

Little was known about the health risks posed by radioactive materials when the Manhattan Project began. The program covers radiation detection instruments such as the Geiger counter, the Human Genome Project, and the use of radioisotopes in medical tests and treatment today. The program also sheds light on some of Los Alamos's less well known innovations. The water boiler reactor, built at Los Alamos over the winter of 1943-44, was the world's first homogeneous liquid-fuel reactor.

The water boiler reactor at Los Alamos
As Los Alamos Innovations shows, the technologies developed at Los Alamos during and after World War II have been a double-edged sword. Nuclear weapons continue to threaten the world today, while nuclear medicine saves countless lives. Debate continues over the decision to use atomic weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the benefits and risks of using nuclear reactors to generate power. Computing and high-speed photography have had an immeasurable impact on science and society over the past 75 years.

Los Alamos Innovations was developed in partnership with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Los Alamos/Northern New Mexico Section and funded by the IEEE Foundation. AHF is very grateful to them and to our other partners including the Los Alamos Historical Society, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory archives team.
David Schiferl and Willie Atencio at the conference
On October 13, 2017, Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) President Cindy Kelly and Program Manager Nate Weisenberg spoke at the Historias de Nuevo México (Histories of New Mexico) conference "Querencia Interrupted: Hispano and Native American Experiences of the Manhattan Project." 

Organized by the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area and Northern New Mexico College, the conference convened scholars, activists, and community members for three days of conversations on the Manhattan Project and its legacies. AHF and numerous other organizations, including Los Alamos National Bank and the National Park Service, sponsored the event.

As part of an opening encuentro (meeting), Kelly and Weisenberg talked about some new firsthand accounts from northern New Mexico residents included on the Voices of the Manhattan Project oral history website. Specifically, AHF published a collection of interviews with Manhattan Project participants taken by Willie Atencio and David Schiferl in 2009. Earlier this year, AHF also interviewed Frances Quintana, Lydia Marti­nez, and Floy Agnes Lee about their work on the Manhattan Project. For more information on these projects, click here.

Image courtesy of the Northern Rio Grande Heritage Area

The interviews collected by Atencio and Schiferl and AHF will deepen public understanding of northern New Mexicans' involvement in the Manhattan Project. The interviewees held a variety of jobs at Los Alamos, including as construction workers, janitors, housekeepers, technicians, clerks, mess hall staff, mail couriers, and maids. They expressed different perspectives on how the Manhattan Project and Los Alamos National Laboratory have affected the area. Some interviewees welcomed what they viewed as steady jobs and good pay at the laboratory. Others were concerned over environmental contamination, the health effects of working at Los Alamos, and the project's disruptions to traditional ways of life.

Thomas Romero and Dr. Patricia Trujillo
Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area Executive Director Thomas A. Romero and Dr. Patricia Trujillo, Associate Professor of English and Chicana/o Studies and Director of Equity and Diversity at Northern New Mexico College, spoke during the same encuentro as AHF. They discussed how projects that share stories of the Manhattan Project must respect local beliefs and cultural contexts.

As Romero emphasized, the motto of the Heritage Area is con respeto y permiso: with respect and permission. Charles Strickfaden, site manager of the Los Alamos unit of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MPNHP), gave an update on the MPNHP and reiterated that the park's interpretation will include multiple perspectives on the Manhattan Project and its impacts.

Many thanks to Patricia Trujillo, Thomas Romero, Willie Atencio, and the other members of the Historias committee for organizing an engaging and thought-provoking event. The sessions highlighted important community projects to document northern New Mexico's history. AHF looks forward to working with partners in northern New Mexico and around the country to share the great diversity of perspectives on the Manhattan Project and its impacts today.
K25K-25 History Center
The K-25 Plant
Plans for building the K-25 History Center are moving forward. In December 2013, the Department of Energy completed its demolition of the historic K-25 gaseous diffusion plant, once the largest roofed building in the world. 

In an August 2012 "memorandum of agreement" with preservationists and other parties, DOE promised to "mitigate" the demolition of the building by creating a history center, building a viewing tower of K-25's original footprint, and developing exhibits on the site's role in the Manhattan Project and the Cold War.

On October 19, DOE and UCOR, DOE's cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge, hosted a walk-through for the public of the future home of the K-25 History Center. The center will be on the second floor of Oak Ridge's Fire Station Number 4 in East Tennessee Technology Park. According to Oak Ridge Today, the history center "will be 7,500 square feet, and it will include exhibits, a theater, oral histories, and a few hundred artifacts."

Bill Wilcox
Construction on the history center, along with an Equipment Building and 67-foot Viewing Tower of the K-25 Plant's footprint, is expected to begin in 2018 with the goal of finishing in 2019. The total costs for the project are estimated at $20 million.

The event on the 19th included tributes to Bill Wilcox, who passed away in 2013. A Manhattan Project veteran, Bill worked at Y-12 for five years and then at K-25 for 20 years, retiring as Technical Director for Union Carbide Nuclear Division. A tireless advocate for preserving Oak Ridge's historic sites, Bill served as Oak Ridge's official historian for many years. Ray Smith, Bill's friend who succeeded him as official historian, said, "He would have been really proud. His legacy lives on." 

For more information, please see Oak Ridge Today's reporting on the project: The legacy of Bill Wilcox lives on at K-25 History Center and Photos: DOE, UCOR announce K-25 History Center plans.  
MemoriamIn Memoriam: Isabella Karle
Isabella Karle (left) speaking at AHF's 75th anniversary events in 2015
We are sad to report the passing of our friend and scientist Dr. Isabella Karle at the age of 95 on October 3. Dr. Karle worked on plutonium chemistry at the Chicago Met Lab during the Manhattan Project. She was a pioneer in crystallography, and worked at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory for many years. She spoke at AHF's 75th anniversary events in Washington, DC, in June 2015, and we recorded two wonderful interviews with her.

When Isabella Karle walked into her chemistry class at Wayne State University at the beginning of her freshman year in 1940, she was the only girl in the class. She eventually transferred to the University of Michigan, where she met her husband, Jerome Karle in a chemistry class. They married in 1942.

Jerome and Isabella Karle. Photo courtesy of the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
With the war in Europe already raging, Jerome was selected for a secret project in Chicago. After completing her Ph.D. in 1943, Isabella too was invited to work on the secret project. 

"My objective was to find out how plutonium behaves with other chemicals and how to synthesize a new compound of plutonium chloride with no impurities," she recalled in an interview with AHF. At twenty-three years of age, Isabella was one of the youngest scientists at the laboratory and one of only a handful of women.

After the Manhattan Project, Isabella and Jerome began a lifetime of collaboration. In 1946, both were invited to join the Naval Research Laboratory, where they began working on a new method to determine the structure of complex biological molecules. Jerome worked on the experimental equations needed to analyze the molecules while Isabella provided the experimental data to prove that they worked.

Dr. Karle. Photo courtesy NRL.
With the help of some of IBM's earliest computing machines, Jerome and Isabella were able to verify their equations. This new methodology drastically improved scientists' ability to analyze and understand complex biological molecules and contributed to the development of new pharmaceuticals.

In 1985, Jerome and colleague Herbert Hauptman were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on the mathematical equations. Despite her experimental work on the project, the Nobel Committee ignored Isabella's contribution. No one was more upset than Jerome, she explained in  Isabella Karle's Curious Crystal Method. "But I told him to forget about it--I had enough awards as it was."

Isabella won a number of prizes for her experimental work, including the National Medal of Science, awarded by President Clinton; the Women in Science and Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Navy's Superior Civilian Service Award. In her AHF interview, she declared, "I enjoyed all the scientific work that I was involved in and I also enjoyed traveling around the world. Not all people are that fortunate." For more about Dr. Karle's life and career, please see Manhattan Project Spotlight: Isabella Karle.
RoundupHistory Article Roundup
Here is a roundup of some of the most interesting articles published on Manhattan Project and Cold War history and science news this month.

Albert Einstein
- Einstein scribbled his theory of happiness in place of a tip. It just sold for more than $1 millionThe Washington Post reports on a handwritten note penned by Albert Einstein soon after he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics that was recently purchased for over $1 million. "A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness."

- Race to the first nuclear chain reaction: This article by the University of Chicago vividly recounts the building of Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1), the first controlled, self-sustained nuclear chain reaction, during the fall of 1942. The University is organizing events, called "Nuclear Reactions," throughout the fall to commemorate the 75th anniversary of CP-1.

Fallout shelter sign
-Robert Blakeley, whose fallout shelter sign was a grim reminder of nuclear war, dies at 95: Robert Blakeley, the man who oversaw the design of the fallout shelter sign during the Cold War, died last week at age 95. 

- Scientists detect gravitational waves from a new kind of nova, sparking a new era in astronomyLIGO Hanford Observatory and its partners recently detected a "kilonova," created when two collapsed stars collided with each other 130 million years ago. This discovery is important for many reasons; among other things, it confirms Albert Einstein's prediction that gravitational waves move at light speed.
Here are some oral history interviews we have recently published on the  Voices of the Manhattan Project website

John Earl Haynes is an American historian specializing in twentieth-century political and intelligence history. In this interview, he provides an in-depth summary of Soviet espionage in the Manhattan Project. He addresses the history surrounding well-known spies, including Julius Rosenberg, David Greenglass, and Klaus Fuchs, as well as lesser-known agents like Jacob Goros, Elizabeth Bentley, and Clarence Hiskey. He analyzes the successful and failed Soviet attempts to uncover American industrial and military secrets about the atomic bomb during World War II and the Cold War.

Richard "Dick" Money was a chemist. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago, where he was introduced to the Manhattan Project's Metallurgical Laboratory. He was hired by the Met Lab and sent to work for Clinton Laboratories in Oak Ridge, TN during the Manhattan Project. He went on to work for Los Alamos National Laboratory for many years and then became a science and math teacher. In his interview, Money discusses how he became involved in the Manhattan Project and his jobs and responsibilities while working in these secret labs. He describes his post-war involvement with the Bikini Atoll tests and the Rover program at Los Alamos. 

Martin J. Sherwin is a historian and professor at George Mason University, specializing in the development of atomic weapons and nuclear policy. With Kai Bird, Sherwin co-authored "American Prometheus," the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer. In this interview, Sherwin discusses Oppenheimer's childhood, family life, and personality, including his love of the mountains of New Mexico, and his leadership at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. Sherwin reflects on the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, arguing that the atomic bombs were not necessary to end the war with Japan.

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.

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