On December 2, 1942, Manhattan Project scientists ushered in the Atomic Age in Chicago. Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard, Leona Woods Marshall, and other scientists watched as the Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1), the world's first man-made nuclear reactor, went critical, achieving a self-sustaining nuclear reaction. In 2017, the Atomic Heritage Foundation is planning to produce a Ranger in Your Pocket program on the University of Chicago's "Metallurgical Laboratory" and the Chicago Pile-1. We look forward to working on this timely project with our partners in Chicago.  The above image is one of 24  paintings by John Cadel that portray the CP-1 experiment (courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory).

For more information on CP-1 and the scientists and workers who witnessed the historic event, please see: Chicago Pile-1, Chicago Pile-1 Participants, and Chicago Pile-1: Ushering in the Atomic Age.
MPNHPManhattan Project NHP Celebrates 1st Anniversary
Superintendent Kris Kirby and Hanford Unit DOE Manager Colleen French find their WWII-era spirit. Photo courtesy of the Manhattan Project NHP.
On November 10, 2016, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (NHP) with units at Hanford, WA, Oak Ridge, TN, and Los Alamos, NM celebrated its first anniversary.  As part of the anniversary, the newly appointed Manhattan Project NHP Superintendent Kris Kirby visited Hanford.  According to the Tri-City Herald , Kirby spoke about increasing the public tour program at Hanford. She also visited the historic B Reactor, and described seeing the front face of the reactor as her "Wow!" moment.
More than 13,000 people have visited the Manhattan Project NHP at Hanford in its first year. Kirby called this figure " a great number ." According to National Park Service (NPS) data , the three sites of the Manhattan Project NHP have received more than 80,000 visitors so far in 2016. The Park Service and the local communities are expecting an influx of visitors in the coming years with projections ranging in the hundreds of thousands in five years.
NPS recently sought public comments on a draft foundation document  for the Manhattan Project NHP . This document establishes a baseline for park planning and interpretive activities and provides basic guidance for planning and management decisions. The Park Service plans to finalize the document by the end of 2016. After this, NPS will begin the multiyear process of creating a general management plan that will guide the Manhattan Project NHP's operations for some twenty years.

The late Bill Wilcox by the Friendship Bell. Courtesy of the Friends of the International Friendship Bell.

The three Manhattan Project NHP sites are busy with plans to accommodate visitors and launch new interpretive projects. Oak Ridge recently unveiled designs for a new home for the city's landmark International Friendship Bell . The 8,000-pound bronze Japanese-style bell, built to mark the 50th anniversary of World War II and installed in Bissell Park in 1996, symbolizes peace and reconciliation between the United States and Japan. The bell is a popular destination for both Oak Ridge residents and visitors. Unfortunately, the pavilion that originally housed the bell deteriorated and had to be torn down in 2014.

The new plan, developed in collaboration with architect Ziad Demian, creates a new, larger plaza and "Peace Pavilion" for the bell, along with a series of walkways and gardens. According to the campaign to restore the bell , the plaza will be a "site for gathering, thoughtful reflection, and observing the bronze work of art. The International Friendship Bell and Peace Pavilion will be among significant sites for visitors coming to Oak Ridge to learn more of the city's history."
Los Alamos History Museum. Courtesy of LAHS.
On December 30, Los Alamos will celebrate the grand reopening of the
Los Alamos History Museum . The renovated and expanded museum campus includes the new Harold Agnew Cold War Gallery in the historic Hans Bethe House. The Gallery, named for the late Manhattan Project veteran and Los Alamos National Laboratory director Harold Agnew, will interpret Los Alamos's history during the Cold War.
One of the Museum's highlights will be the original gate from 109 East Palace Avenue in Santa Fe. Many Manhattan Project participants walked through this gate to meet the "Gatekeeper to Los Alamos," Dorothy McKibbin, before heading up to "the Hill." The renovated Museum will be a must-see for all visitors to Los Alamos. For updates and video from the installation of the new exhibits, visit the Museum's Facebook page .
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park has certainly had a fruitful first year. The Atomic Heritage Foundation looks forward to working with the National Park Service and our partners to make even greater strides in the second year of the park.
75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Battleship USS West Virginia under attack
Battleship USS West Virginia under attack
Today, December 7, 2016, is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, or the "date which will live in infamy." In the attack, 2,403 American civilians and military personnel were killed and 1,178 wounded. Two battleships and 188 aircraft were destroyed, and many other ships and aircraft were badly damaged. The next day, Congress declared war against Japan; a few days later, Nazi Germany and Italy declared war against the United States.

The attack against Pearl Harbor and the declarations of war caused a wave of patriotism across the US. Many men signed up to serve in the armed forces, and women and children did whatever they could to support the war effort at home. Dorothy Wilkinson, who worked as a "Calutron girl" at the Y-12 Plant during the war, explained, "I came to the Manhattan Project right out of high school when I graduated because I had a brother killed on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, and I thought that I would like to do something for the war effort."

The USS Arizona Memorial today
Many of the Manhattan Project veterans we have interviewed for our "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website recall the impact Pearl Harbor had, both on their own life and the US at large. For their recollections, please see Remembering Pearl Harbor. Today, the USS Arizona Memorial and the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument provide a moving and educational experience for visitors. AHF's Alexandra Levy visited the sites in September 2016; for her account, please see  Pearl Harbor Visit.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced that he will visit Pearl Harbor with President Obama on Dec. 26-27, 2016. He will become the first Japanese leader to visit the site of the attack that brought the United States into World War II. "This visit is to comfort the souls of the victims. We'd like to send messages about the importance of reconciliation" between the two countries, Abe told reporters in Tokyo. Abe's visit comes seven months after President Obama became the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima. For more on Abe's forthcoming visit, please see Japanese prime minister plans landmark visit to Pearl Harbor
StoreAHF Online Store

Looking for a gift for a history-loving friend or family member this holiday season? Look no further than the Atomic Heritage Foundation's online store! The store features T-shirts, posters, notecards, books, documentary films, and more.

New this year are T-shirts depicting the Los Alamos Main Gate, the B Reactor at Hanford, and the Chapel on the Hill at Oak Ridge. Made from high quality 100% cotton, the T-shirts are available in adult sizes small, medium, large, extra-large, 2XL, and 3XL. The Los Alamos T-shirts are now available in women and children's sizes as well. The T-shirts make great souvenirs and are a terrific way to promote the new Manhattan Project NHP.

If you are planning a visit to one of the Manhattan Project NHP sites, pick up one of AHF's easy-to-read, informative guidebooks on the Manhattan Project in New Mexico, Tennessee, Washington State, and Manhattan. You can also purchase a copy of our popular anthology, The Manhattan Project, a comprehensive collection of primary source documents and engaging and insightful entries on the project and its legacy.

The online store also features colorful posters and 5x7 notecards depicting the sites of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, as well as the Trinity Site. To learn more about Manhattan Project history, you can also buy a number of documentary films, including "A Sense of Place: Preserving the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos," "Hanford's Secret Wartime Mission," and collections of oral history interviews with Manhattan Project veterans.

Your purchases help make our initiatives to preserve and interpret the history of the Manhattan Project possible. Thank you for your support!
ComplexT"Complex Transformation" by George C. Allen
Dr. George C. Allen, Jr.'s Complex Transformation is a nuclear insider's take on the evolution of the United States' Nuclear Weapons Complex. The book covers an extensive array of historical and current nuclear sites across the country. Allen, who received a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from MIT in nuclear engineering, spent 27 years at the Sandia National Laboratories before working for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) as Director of the Office of Transformation.

After his retirement in 2011, Allen traveled 25,000 miles by motorcycle to visit hundreds of sites associated with the Nuclear Weapons Complex. While some Manhattan Project sites are being preserved, Allen points out, "Many post-Manhattan Project locations are merely viewed as embarrassing environmental legacies to be cleaned, recycled, or abandoned, and then forgotten." Allen leaves no site forgotten, providing explanation, chronology, and wonderful photographs throughout, including many he took himself.

Pupin Hall at Columbia University, a Manhattan Project research center and one of the sites profiled in "Complex Transformation"
The sites explored include administrative offices, research centers, and locations for uranium and plutonium production and storage. Other sites include places where secondary materials and non-nuclear components were produced, weapons assembly locations, test sites, and waste disposition sites. While some areas are already famous, such as Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford, others are not widely known and are given deserved attention. Many photographs show inconspicuous sites: one would never guess their significance to national security. Allen furthermore organizes each chapter chronologically so readers can see the transformation of the Nuclear Weapons Complex over many decades.

Complex Transformation is extensive and detailed, but easy to understand and meticulously organized. Because Allen worked closely with the DOE, the book includes much information that would be otherwise inaccessible to the public. It is a valuable resource for the continued study and interpretation of the nuclear age.  The book can be purchased on Amazon.
ChernobylChernobyl New Safe Containment Slid into Place
On April 26, 1986, reactor number 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat, Ukraine, suffered a meltdown and steam explosion. The accident, caused by reactor design flaws and human error, was the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history. Pripyat, a town of 50,000, was evacuated, along with neighboring areas, and today remains uninhabited as part of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

The reactor's roof collapsed in the steam explosion, and radioactive substances and fission products were released into the atmosphere. To contain the reactor, a large concrete sarcophagus was built and put in place in December 1986. But the sarcophagus was only expected to last 30 years before decaying.

On November 29, 2016, the New Safe Containment was slid into place around the reactor. Primarily made of steel and concrete, the New Safe Containment is an arch-like structure, weighing 1944.25 tons and measuring 843 feet wide and 354 feet tall. An incredible feat of engineering, it is expected to contain the Chernobyl reactor for the next 100 years.

For video of the massive structure being slid into place around the reactor, please click here
ArticlesArticles Highlight Meitner and Oppenheimer
Lise Meitner
Two fascinating articles in November highlighted the scientific contributions of physicists Lise Meitner and J. Robert Oppenheimer.

How Pioneering Physicist Lise Meitner Discovered Nuclear Fission, Paved the Way for Women in Science, and Was Denied the Nobel Prize provides an overview of Meitner's life and career and the challenges she overcame. She and her nephew Otto Frisch correctly interpreted the results of German chemists Fritz Strassmann and Otto Hahn's experiments to mean that the nucleus of a uranium atom had split. Meitner and Frisch even coined the term "fission." But it was Hahn, and Hahn alone, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1944.

The article recounts Meitner's reaction to being excluded from the prestigious prize and recognition: "Meitner received countless accolades in her lifetime and even had a chemical element, meitnerium, posthumously named after her, but the slight was never righted. Although every imaginable roadblock had been placed before her in pursuing a scientific education, she had survived Nazi persecution, and had endured the anguish of exile, she considered the Nobel omission that most irredeemable sorrow of her life."

J. Robert Oppenheimer
J. Robert Oppenheimer today is best known as the director of the Manhattan Project's weapons laboratory at Los Alamos. Partly as a result of his close association with the atomic bomb, Oppenheimer's other scientific contributions have often been overlooked. Chemist Ashutosh Jogalekar has published an article that explores Oppenheimer's important work on black holes, and why he became disinterested in conducting further research on the topic.

"On September 1, 1939, the same day that Germany attacked Poland and started World War 2, a remarkable paper appeared in the pages of the journal Physical Review. In it J. Robert Oppenheimer and his student Hartland Snyder laid out the essential characteristics of what we today call the black hole...Then Oppenheimer forgot all about it and never said anything about black holes for the rest of his life." 

Jogalekar explains that Oppenheimer's narrow interest in the fundamental laws of physics led to his disinterest in further exploring black holes or other topics that he saw as less important. For more, please see  Oppenheimer's Folly: On black holes, fundamental laws and pure and applied science.
Voices"Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Here are some oral history interviews we have recently added to the  Voices of the Manhattan Project website

Robert Bacher - Part 2: In 1943, J. Robert Oppenheimer recruited American physicist Robert Bacher to join the Manhattan Project as head of the experimental physics division at Los Alamos. Bacher went on to direct the bomb physics division at Los Alamos from 1944 to 1945, helping oversee the design of the implosion bomb, known as "Fat Man," that was dropped on Nagasaki. In this interview, Bacher recalls how the Los Alamos laboratory was forced to shift gears from the gun-type design for the plutonium bomb to the implosion-type method. He also describes his post-war service as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission.

Haakon Chevalier's Interview - Part 2: Haakon Chevalier was a French literature professor, author, and close friend of J. Robert Oppenheimer beginning at Berkeley in 1937. In this interview, Chevalier discusses aspects of Oppenheimer's personal life, including his romantic relationships, hobbies, and religious views. He explains his own involvement in the Communist Party and Oppenheimer's work on left-wing issues, and gives his thoughts on Oppenheimer's security trial in 1954. Chevalier recalls first meeting Kitty Oppenheimer, and remembers her as a warm and friendly woman.

Geoffrey Chew was an undergraduate studying physics at George Washington University when he assisted Washington Post journalist (and future children's novelist) Jean Craighead in writing an article on atomic weapons. His professor, George Gamow, recommended that Chew join Edward Teller's team at Los Alamos. At Los Alamos, Chew witnessed the Trinity Test from a nearby mountain and worked on Teller's ideas for developing the hydrogen bomb. In graduate school, Chew was supervised by Enrico Fermi. In this interview, Chew recounts his unique entrance to the Manhattan Project and his relationship with Edward Teller. He also recalls an incident when Fermi had trouble playing a game at a party, his conversation with an intelligence man on the Craighead article, and serving as John von Neumann's "human computer." Finally, Chew discusses his current research on the Big Bang.
Thanks to all the Manhattan Project veterans, their families and many others who have supported our efforts over the past 14 years.  The "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website now contains more than 400 oral history interviews. We are continuing to interview Manhattan Project veterans, family members, and experts around the country.

Your  donation will make a difference! Please consider taking a minute to support our efforts. Thanks very much!

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