October 2012
In Support of a Manhattan Project National Historical Park
AHF Awarded National Science Foundation Grant
AHF Group Tours Los Alamos
Cuban Missile Crisis Event
Atomic Timeline
Quick Links


We hope everyone stayed safe in Hurricane Sandy. Our Washington, DC headquarters thankfully came through unscathed. 


The Atomic Heritage Foundation spent October working on several projects, including a new website featuring Manhattan Project oral histories (set to launch later this month) and planning for a workshop funded by the National Science Foundation scheduled for February 2013. 

A sneak peek of the front page of our new oral history website!

In Support of a Manhattan Project National Historical Park


We hope that the House and Senate will vote in favor of legislation to establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park during the lame duck session. Much depends upon the outcome of the elections next week.


The Manhattan Project National Historical Park would not, as Rep. Dennis Kucinich has wrongly characterized, "celebrate" the atomic bomb. Rather, the Park would engage the public in exploring the complex scientific, historical, political, ethical, and moral issues that are intrinsic to the Manhattan Project and examine its legacy. Two recent editorials eloquently advocate for the Park. 

Cindy Kelly, LAHS Executive Director Heather McClenahan, & D. Ray Smith at the June House committee hearing


Historically Speaking: Putting the Manhattan Project into Proper Perspective by Y-12 historian D. Ray Smith eviscerates Rep. Kucinich's inaccurate comments about the purpose of the Park and explains the importance of preserving and interpreting this history. Smith testified in favor of the Park in a hearing on the legislation before the House Committee on Natural Resources back in June. 

Pass the Bill Establishing Manhattan Project National Historical Park is by Jim DiPeso, the Policy Director for ConservAmerica, an organization focused on conservation. DiPeso argues, "The Manhattan Project is a compelling and complex story that surely rises to the level of commemoration and interpretation as a national park. Congress should pass the park authorizing legislation, then get out of the way and let the National Park Service do the interpretation job it does so well."

Physicist Norris Bradbury with the Gadget bomb before the Trinity test. In 1945, Bradbury succeeded J. Robert Oppenheimer as director of the Los Alamos National Lab, a position he would hold for 25 years. Photo courtesy of LANL.

The Manhattan Project catapulted American science and technology from the backwaters with little government support before World War II to a preeminent position worldwide. After the war, "Big Science" was born with government support for national laboratories and high-energy physics equipment needed in the new Atomic Age. The unprecedented collaboration of the government, industry and academia created during the war continued, leading to rapid advances in nuclear energy, nuclear medicine, materials sciences, industrial applications, agricultural research, microbiology, genomics and other fields.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation has created an easy way for advocates of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park to contact their Congressmen and ask for their support for the legislation. Simply click here, fill in the required fields, edit the letter as you wish, and your missive will be sent to your Congressmen's offices. 


AHF Awarded National Science Foundation Grant


The B Reactor at Hanford

The Atomic Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce that the National Science Foundation awarded us a grant to hold a workshop in February 2013. The topic of the workshop will be "Transforming the Relationship between Science and Society: The Manhattan Project and Its Legacy." 


The two-day workshop will invite leading scholars, researchers, informal science educators and museum professionals to explore new ways to engage the public in issues at the interface of science and society. The conference will consider recent scholarship on the Manhattan Project and how the issues of science and society raised by the development of the atomic bomb can inform contemporary issues. 


This exploratory workshop is intended both to advance inter-disciplinary scholarship and to generate creative ideas for engaging the public. Looking ahead, the workshop is the first step toward our goal of creating a national traveling exhibit on the Manhattan Project. 


While attendance is limited, representatives from three Manhattan Project museums are invited to add valuable pragmatic, first-hand experience. We plan to record the entire session and make it available live on our website. 

AHF Group Tours Los Alamos

On Thursday, October 18, 2012, the Atomic Heritage Foundation led a group of fifteen visitors from around the country on a behind the scenes tour of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and a tour of the Oppenheimer house.


Jon Ventura, senior associate at the laboratory, led us through the Nicholas C. Metropolis Center. We peered through windows at the supercomputer which can run 1.35 petaflops of data per second. (A single petaflop is the equivalent of a million billion calculations.) We also donned 3D glasses to watch the simulations created by the supercomputer including "Dino Splash" that recreates the dinosaur-killing asteroid that struck the Yucatan peninsula 65 million years ago.


Jon Ventura's briefing about LANL's work today covered a diverse portfolio of work beyond maintaining the nation's nuclear stockpile. Jon also proudly showed us the newly restored Army-Navy "E" Award flag presented in 1945 for "excellence" in producing the atomic bomb. 

John Ruminer, Cindy Kelly, Helene Suydam & Heather McClenahan

After lunch, Los Alamos Historical Society (LAHS)'s Heather McClenahan and John Ruminer led us to the house where J. Robert Oppenheimer and his wife Kitty and their two small children lived during the Manhattan Project. Today Helene Suydam, 93, lives there and was a most gracious hostess. As Helene explained, "We did not change a thing."  


Photographs of Oppenheimer entertaining guests in the living room eerily evoke a sense of their presence. When a Manhattan Project National Historical Park is created, it will be a "jewel in the crown" of the Manhattan Project experience in Los Alamos.



Cuban Missile Crisis Event

Robert S. Norris



The Wilson Center hosted an excellent session on the nuclear order of battle during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The panel was led by Robert S. Norris, senior fellow for nuclear policy at the Federation of American Scientists, author of the definitive biography of General Leslie R. Groves, Racing for the Bomb, and co-author, with Cindy Kelly, of our recently released  A Guide to the Manhattan Project in Manhattan. Norris is also a member of AHF's Advisory Committee and the organizing committee for the NSF workshop next year.



Norris presented in exacting detail the number and type of nuclear weapons in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the number and types of nuclear weapons the United States had ready. This nuclear order of battle provided a penetrating look into just how close the world came to a nuclear catastrophe, as well as why Khrushchev blinked. Norris is working on producing an article. 


Joining Norris on the panel was nuclear historian and defense analyst David A. Rosenberg who also presented a fascinating review of US and Soviet nuclear strategies during the 1960s. After one briefing in 1960, President John F. Kennedy was heard to mutter, "And we call ourselves the human race?"


The panel can be watched in full here.


Atomic Timeline

Physicists John Dunning, Enrico Fermi, & Dana P. Mitchell by the Columbia cyclotron


Follow the Atomic Heritage Foundation on Facebook and Twitter to read daily updates on the history of the Manhattan Project and its legacy. Drawing from our Atomic Timeline, we post historical "On This Day" updates exploring the milestones of the Manhattan Project. 


We strive to create a picture for our followers of the many challenges Manhattan Project scientists overcame, and the speed with which the Manhattan Project came together and was completed.


For example: on November 1, 1941, John Dunning and Eugene Booth at Columbia University demonstrate the first measurable U-235 enrichment produced by gaseous diffusion. Their experiment was the basis for the mile-long K-25 plant built in Oak Ridge, TN.


Thanks very much for your interest in the Manhattan Project and preserving its history for future generations. 


Your contributions help us continue to work on preserving the Manhattan Project's historic sites and creating a national historical park. 


Thank you very much for your support!



Atomic Heritage Foundation