On Tuesday, October 2, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou, and Donna Strickland “for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics.” Strickland is only the third woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics, and the first woman to win the award since Manhattan Project veteran Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963.
Earlier this year, the Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) recorded a wonderful interview with Hélène Langevin-Joliot (pictured), the granddaughter of the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, Marie Curie (pictured above with her husband and fellow Nobelist, Pierre). A distinguished nuclear physicist, Dr. Langevin-Joliot discusses the scientific contributions of the Curie family and her own experiences in the field of nuclear physics, particularly the difficulties of being a woman in science. To watch the interview, click here.
  • AHF Launches Trinity Site Program
  • Manhattan Project Sites News
  • Thanks to our Summer Interns
  • History Article Roundup
  • "Voices of the Manhattan Project"
AHF Launches Trinity Site Program
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Val Fitch recalled being awestruck by the world’s first nuclear test, the Trinity Test: “It’s hard to overstate the impact on the senses of something like that. First the flash of light, that enormous fireball, the mushroom cloud rising thousands of feet in the sky, and then, a long time afterwards, the sound. The rumble, thunder in the mountains. Words haven’t been invented to describe it in any accurate way.”

AHF has launched a new “Ranger in Your Pocket” online educational program on the history of the Trinity Site, where the test took place. The program features over thirty video vignettes with firsthand accounts from Fitch, Manhattan Project leaders General Leslie Groves, J. Robert Oppenheimer, George Kistiakowsky, and others. Veterans describe the fateful day of July 16, 1945, when the Manhattan Project ushered the world into the Atomic Age.
AHF has partnered with the White Sands Missile Range Historical Foundation on the project. In addition to being available online, the vignettes may also be shown in the White Sands Missile Range Museum, which is currently being expanded. The Trinity Site is open to tourists two days a year including on Saturday, October 6, 2018. This program will be a valuable resource for visitors to learn more about the Trinity Site and what they can see during their trip.

In the program, Manhattan Project veterans describe their uncertainty. They worried about whether the bomb would work at all, and if so, whether it would work too well. Physicist Emilio Segrè was assured by others that “there was no chance of igniting the atmosphere. But I’m enough of a physicist to know that you calculate everything, and then something happens that you never dreamed of.”
On July 16, 1945, a major thunderstorm postponed the test until 5:29 AM. For most of the scientists, the long vigil was nerve wracking. But the unflappable General Groves (pictured) caught three or four hours of sleep. “We had about four hours to wait for the bomb there. The tents were flapping and there was a high wind. [James B.] Conant and [Vannevar] Bush were in the same tent with me. They said after, ‘How on earth did you sleep? You went right to sleep, and we stayed awake!’”

The moment of detonation elicited various responses from eyewitnesses. Physicist Hans Courant evoked his emotional response to the fireball: “My hands got warm from the heat from the bomb, which just grew and grew, and then eventually started up into the sky. I had been sitting there and I thought, “Oh, my God.” It was terrible. Suddenly, I realized that next time there would be people under it. It never occurred to me. Well, it was also wonderful. It worked."
The “Ranger” program explores the legacy of the Trinity Test for New Mexico and the world today. In one vignette, historian Jon Hunner explains the chilling significance of the successful test: “Now humans have the ability to destroy the earth.” Jim Eckles, who worked in the White Sands Missile Range Public Office for thirty years, clarifies the source of the famous “trinitite” glass (pictured) produced by the test, which tourists love to search for during visits to the site. The program also describes the possible health effects of radioactive fallout and the efforts of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders to receive compensation and recognition for their suffering.

The Atomic Heritage Foundation is very grateful to the White Sands Missile Range Historical Foundation, the New Mexico Intervention Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, philanthropists Clay and Dorothy Perkins, and other private donors for their financial support of the project. 
Manhattan Project Sites News: September 2018
On September 20, Oak Ridgers dedicated the new Peace Pavilion for the City’s International Friendship Bell in A.K. Bissell Park. The 8,000-pound Japanese-style bell, created in the 1990s as part of Oak Ridge’s fiftieth anniversary, is meant to symbolize peace and reconciliation between the United States and Japan after World War II. (Pictured: the late Oak Ridge city historian Bill Wilcox with the Bell and the previous Pavilion).

The ceremony for the new Peace Pavilion was covered by the Oak Ridger , WBIR , and the Knoxville News Sentinel . AHF will soon publish an interview with Shigeko Uppuluri, who led the effort to build the Bell, on the Voices of the Manhattan Project website. An interview with Patricia “Pat” Postma, co-chair of the International Friendship Bell Citizens Advisory Committee, is also now available on the website.

The American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) at Oak Ridge had a soft opening at its new location at 115 Main Street East on October 1, 2018. As of October 18, the Museum will be open seven days a week. An AMSE press release explains, “The new 18,000-square-foot space includes a newly-designed exhibit gallery featuring state-of-the-art interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, as well as a lecture hall and classroom facilities.” Before it closed earlier this year, the Museum had been located in a 54,000-square-foot building at 300 South Tulane Avenue. The old AMSE site is being redeveloped for retail.

A new museum, the Oak Ridge History Museum, has also opened in Oak Ridge. The Museum is located at the Midtown Community Center at 102 Robertsville Road and is currently open Thursdays through Saturdays. Organized by longtime AHF partner the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association (ORHPA), the Museum focuses on the stories of the people who lived in Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project. For more on the new Museum, see this Oak Ridger article. You can visit the Museum’s website at
Two popular events returned at the Hanford, WA Unit of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. On September 22, bicyclists participated in the third annual Ride the Reactor event, which included a tour of the B Reactor and interpretive talks by National Park Service rangers. The weekend of September 28-30, the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers held their third annual concerts at the B Reactor. According to the Tri-City Herald, the concerts, organized under the theme “Song of Democracy,” included the opening chorus of the John Adams opera “ Doctor Atomic” and Benjamin Britten’s “Holy Sonnets of John Donne.” Donne’s sonnets are believed to be the inspiration for naming the Alamogordo, NM test site “Trinity.”
The Los Alamos History Museum has announced its 2018-19 lecture series. Organized in recognition of the Museum’s 50th anniversary year, the talks focus on a variety of subjects. The first lecture on September 18 featured Andrew Wulf, executive director of the New Mexico History Museum and the Palace of the Governors. He discussed the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow, an example of Cold War cultural diplomacy. (Pictured: the famous 1959 "Kitchen Debate" between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon). The list of upcoming lectures is here.

For the full article on Manhattan Project sites news, click here.
Thanks to Our Summer Interns
AHF is very grateful to our summer interns for their outstanding work. Our team included Jack McAuliffe, a junior at Yale University; Joseph O’Connor (Connor) Gill, a senior at the George Washington University; and Simon Mairson, a recent graduate of Georgetown University now continuing his studies in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

This summer, Jack, Connor, and Simon researched and wrote more than 20 new articles for AHF’s website on the history and impacts of the Manhattan Project, the Cold War, and nuclear proliferation. Some of the articles describe:

  • Uranium mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the American Southwest during the Manhattan Project and Cold War and its ongoing legacies.

  • The history of the opera “Doctor Atomic,” which was memorably performed at the Santa Fe Opera this summer.

Going forward, AHF will build on Simon, Connor, and Jack’s work to develop additional educational resources on the history of the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Age. We are currently seeking to raise funds to produce new articles, lesson plans, and educational videos that can be used by middle and high school students and teachers. We welcome your support for this effort and your suggestions for other topics we should cover on our website.
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:

Animated film will convey tragedies of U.S. POW in A-bomb attack: The Asahi Shimbun reports on the film project “Hiroshima, the last rose of summer,” a fictional tale which will depict the relationship between a U.S. prisoner of war and a Japanese woman in Hiroshima before the atomic bombing.
Belongings of student who perished in A-bomb attack donated to Hiroshima museum: The brother of a 13-year-old girl who was killed in the Hiroshima bombing has donated her school uniform, hood, and lunchbox to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

How Do We Know Which Historical Accounts Are True?: In this article, historian of science and archaeologist Stephen E. Nash challenges claims that downplay the accuracy of oral tradition.
Settlement a ‘historic victory’ for Hanford workers: KREM reports on a settlement agreement that will involve the U.S. Department of Energy paying nearly $1 million to the state of Washington, the nonprofit group Hanford Challenge, and a union representing Hanford workers. The Department has agreed to create a new system to protect Hanford workers involved in the site’s environmental cleanup from chemical vapors at the site.
Tri-Citians paid for a bomber in WWII. The pilot’s son has returned with his memories : The son of Duane Wineinger, the pilot of the B-17 bomber “Day’s Pay” that was funded by contributions from Hanford workers during World War II, is donating artifacts his father owned to the Hanford History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Weinberg papers preservation project seeks community support : The Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge is seeking support for a project to digitize and make public the papers of Manhattan Project physicist and longtime Oak Ridge National Laboratory director Alvin Weinberg .
"Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Here are some oral history interviews we have recently published on the  Voices of the Manhattan Project website
Robert Carter spent a year and a half as a graduate student at Purdue University before being recruited to work for the Manhattan Project. At Los Alamos, Carter’s team, which included his close friend Joan Hinton, worked on the research reactor. Eventually, Carter and Hinton came to work closely with Enrico Fermi, who became a mentor and friend to the two of them. Carter fondly recounts his dinners and hikes with Hinton and Fermi, both at Los Alamos and after. After the war, Carter enrolled in graduate courses at University of Illinois before returning to Los Alamos for fifteen years. For the rest of his career, Carter worked for various government agencies before retiring. Carter also discusses his friend Harry Daghlian and advising prominent physicist George Gamow on a project.
Garret Martin is a professor at American University’s School of International Service and is the author of “ General de Gaulle’s Cold War: Challenging American Hegemony, 1963-68 .” In this interview, Martin discusses the rise of French President Charles de Gaulle and France’s decision to build an atomic bomb. He also elaborates on the Franco-American relationship, the changing role of France in NATO, and the impact of the Algerian War and the French nuclear tests in Algeria. Martin concludes with an evaluation of nuclear weapons and energy in France today.
Robert S. Norris is a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists and is the author of the definitive biography of General Leslie Groves. In this interview, Norris provides an overview of the French atomic program, describing the influence of Marie Curie and Frédéric Joliot-Curie. He goes on to explain how nations, including the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France, became nuclear powers in the context of the Cold War. He also discusses current debates over nuclear weapons. Norris provides insight into the creation of the 509th Composite Group, and the U.S. decision to use the atomic bombs in Japan.
Patricia “Pat” Postma arrived in Oak Ridge in 1943 when her father was recruited to join the Manhattan Project. She grew up in Oak Ridge and was a professor in the College of Business at the University of Tennessee. In this interview, she discusses her involvement in the effort to build Oak Ridge’s International Friendship Bell, a symbol of peace and reconciliation between the US and Japan. She discusses what the bell represents and some of the initial opposition to it. She also reflects on how living in Oak Ridge has shaped her and how she believes the “bell speaks to the values of this town.”
Spencer Weart is a historian of science. Originally trained as a physicist, Weart served for many years as director of the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) in College Park, Maryland. In this interview, Weart discusses the French nuclear program, starting with its origins with Marie and Pierre Curie. He examines the prominent role of their daughter, Irène, and her husband, Frédéric Joliot, who together won a Nobel Prize in 1935 for their discovery of artificial radioactivity. Irène and Frédéric’s work made enormous contributions to the development of nuclear physics during the late 1930s. Weart goes on to explain how, during World War II, key members of the French program became part of the Manhattan Project, as well as Joliot’s role in the French Resistance. He concludes with a discussion of the postwar nuclear program in France. 
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