910 17th St. NW Suite 408
Washington, DC 20006
October 2014

Don't have a Halloween costume yet? No problem! Check out these ideas for physics-themed costumes, and go as a neutrino, dark energy, or cosmic inflation. Alternatively, just don a porkpie hat and enjoy a martini!

In This Issue
"Ranger in Your Pocket" Tours in Development


In April we launched Ranger in Your Pocket, which features tours of Manhattan Project sites with audio/visual vignettes drawn from our vast oral history collection. Our first tour was Hanford B Reactor, with a section on Life at Hanford. The program allows visitors to the B Reactor to take self-guided tours, listening to Manhattan Project scientists and DuPont engineers describe how they designed the
and built the world's first full-scale plutonium production reactor. People around the world can also visit the "Ranger in your Pocket" website and take virtual tours.



We have received great feedback about the Hanford tours and have several others that will be "Coming Soon!" These include ones on Manhattan Project innovations, Hanford's pioneers, and a tour of Bathtub Row and other historic properties in downtown Los Alamos. You can get a sneak peek of the tours in development on the "Ranger" site.


Eventually, we hope to have a suite of "Ranger in Your Pocket" tours that will cover many aspects of the Manhattan Project. One tour will be devoted to espionage and another to women in the Manhattan Project. To the extent possible, the "Ranger in Your Pocket" programs will tell the stories through the voices of the Manhattan Project participants themselves. 


Please consider making a donation to help us add to our suite of "Ranger in Your Pocket" tours!


New Online Store

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new online store! Our new store is easy to navigate and secure to use. We sell books including guidebooks on the Manhattan Project in New Mexico, Tennessee, Washington, and Manhattan; signed copies of "The Manhattan Project"; "Remembering the Manhattan Project"; "B Reactor: First in the World"; and "Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project." We also sell documentary films including "Hanford's Secret Wartime Mission, "Nuclear Pioneers," "A Sense of Place," and biopics of General Leslie R. Groves and Crawford Greenewalt. 


Take a look - maybe you can get some holiday shopping done early! To celebrate our new store, from now through Nov. 7 use the code POBOX1663 to get 10% off your order.

Manhattan Project Spotlight: George and Vera Kistiakowsky


One of the most difficult problems that physicists faced during the Manhattan Project was figuring out a way to make an implosion-type atomic weapon. In order to create a perfectly symmetrical shockwave that would "implode" inwards to compress a solid plutonium sphere, Los Alamos director J. Robert Oppenheimer enlisted the help of the nation's top civilian explosives expert: George Kistiakowsky.


Born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1900, Kistiakowsky had fought in the anti-communist White Army's infantry and tank corps during the Russian Revolution before fleeing to Germany in 1921. He received his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Berlin in 1925 and immigrated to the United States a year later. In 1930, Kistiakowsky accepted a position as Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University.

When the war broke out in Europe in 1939, Kistiakowsky was determined to join the fight. "I went to war work because I had a very intense rejection of Hitler and fascism," Kistiakowsky explained in a 1982 interview with historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes, which can now be heard on Voices of the Manhattan Project. 


In 1940, Kistiakowsky was appointed head of the Explosives Division for the National Defense Research Committee. When physicists at Los Alamos struggled with implosion in 1944, Oppenheimer reached out to Kistiakowsky for help. Kistiakowsky agreed to go, assuming several conditions were met, including "that my daughter [Vera] could spend the summers with me, and yet go to college, which was completely an unusual arrangement. She was the only teenager who was allowed to go in and out that way."


George and Vera packed up their belongings and made their way to Los Alamos. The two moved into a little stone house on Bathtub Row. "It had originally been the power house for the Ranch School that had occupied the mesa," explained Vera in an interview on Voices of the Manhattan Project, "but it was modified to become a very comfortable little house." Vera slept in the house's only bedroom and her father slept on a pullout couch in the living room.


After hundreds of experiments and months of testing, Kistiakowsky's Explosives Division finally produced a promising configuration for implosion. With the first test of the implosion bomb looming in the summer of 1945, many of the physicists were doubtful that the design would succeed. Kistiakowsky remained confident that his design would work. "I bet Oppenheimer about six or seven hundred dollars against ten dollars that the explosive part would work and there would be some nuclear reaction."


When news of the Japanese surrender reached Los Alamos, Kistiakowsky celebrated the only way he knew how. "After V-J Day I got fairly soused at a party given by Robert Bacher," he recalled. "Those around me egged me on and so I went to the explosive stores and got out twenty-one fifty pound boxes of TNT. With the help of a young man-since I was rather far gone-fired them off in a field and came back. The bastards told me I fired twenty-two."


Shortly after the war, George Kistiakowsky returned to Harvard to teach Chemistry and later became President Eisenhower's Science Advisor. Vera received her PhD in nuclear chemistry under the co-discoverer of plutonium Glenn Seaborg at the University of California-Berkeley. Vera joined the faculty at MIT in 1963. "I thought very highly of my father," Vera said. "He told me very seriously that I should find something to do that would support me and not rely on getting married and finding someone who would support me."


For more on George and Vera's fascinating lives, read the full Manhattan Project Spotlight article or check out George and Vera's interviews on "Voices of the Manhattan Project."


Actor Daniel London as J. Robert Oppenheimer in "Manhattan"


The first season of WGN America's TV series, "Manhattan," ended with a bang. The project's technical frustrations, rivalries, and tensions that had been building for months finally come to a head. (Warning: Spoilers for the first season ahead.) When Reed Akley realizes that Thin Man will never work with reactor-produced plutonium, he kills himself. Frank and Charlie, realizing that implosion is the only viable method, prepare to push ahead. However, Occam, the counterintelligence officer at Los Alamos, has other plans, questioning first Charlie and then taking Winter away with a bag over his head. But Occam is dead wrong. The quiet, mousy Meeks (pictured below) is the real spy on the Hill! For more, check out our recap of the season finale.


Do you think he looks like Klaus Fuchs?


With the first season ending in the middle of 1944, the next season should be even more dramatic as the scientists race to complete and test an atomic bomb. Will Frank be back to help Charlie with implosion? Will Meeks succeed in giving the blueprint for the bomb to the Soviets? Will the show feature the production sites at Oak Ridge and Hanford?  We will have to wait and see.


"Manhattan" has raised the public's interest in the history of the Manhattan Project. Since the show's launch, our AHF website and Voices of the Manhattan Project have received double the number of visits. The biggest spike in hits are on Sunday and Monday, just after the show has aired. We hope this continues as more people catch up on the show on Hulu, where it can be watched for free.


Check out this thoughtful interview with "Manhattan" creator Sam Shaw and stay tuned for the start of the 2015 season. 


DOE Releases Oppenheimer Hearing Transcripts


In 1954, the Atomic Energy Commission revoked J. Robert Oppenheimer's security clearance, concerned about that his past communist connections could compromise his loyalty to the United States. His clearance was due to expire 24 hours after the security hearing canceled his clearance. 


The humiliating gesture deeply affected Oppenheimer and his whole family. His daughter, Toni, was later unable to receive a clearance for translation work at the United Nations because of her father's perceived untrustworthiness. According to Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin's excellent biography of Oppenheimer, "She avoided discussing the 1954 hearing, other than to say on occasion 'that those men destroyed my father.'" In 1977, Toni committed suicide.


The Atomic Energy Commission's full transcripts from the hearing had been classified and sent to the National Archives, where some of the volumes were declassified while others languished in the declassification process or were miscategorized and lost. In 2009, historian Alex Wellerstein submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to review the classified volumes. In 2012, the National Archives sent the volumes to DOE for review. This past month, DOE announced that they had uploaded online the full, unredacted transcripts of the hearing. 


William Broad of the New York Times covered the document release, explaining, "Experts who have looked at the declassified transcripts say they cast startling new light on the Oppenheimer case." Broad quotes Dr. Isador I. Rabi who defended Oppenheimer saying, "'We have an A-bomb,' he told the hearing, 'as well as a whole series of Super bombs...What more do you want, mermaids?'"


Manhattan Project Spies

On October 14, the New York Times confirmed the death of David Greenglass, the notorious Army sergeant who stole atomic secrets from Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project.


Drafted by the Army, Greenglass was a skilled machinist and became a member of the Special Engineer Detachment. In 1944, Greenglass was sent to Los Alamos. After lying on his security clearance report, Greenglass was assigned to make precision molds for the high-explosive lenses used to detonate the plutonium core.


Julius Rosenberg, already a Soviet spy, recruited his brother-in-law. In the middle of 1945, Greenglass sent Rosenberg a crude sketch and twelve pages of detailed notes on the implosion-type atomic bomb.


In 1950, Greenglass was arrested and charged with espionage. Klaus Fuchs, a physicist and a Soviet spy who had worked at Los Alamos, implicated Harry Gold, the Soviet agent for both Fuchs and Greenglass. In exchange for testimony against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Greenglass was sentenced to fifteen years. He was released in 1960 and rejoined his wife in New York, where he lived under an assumed name until his death in July.


Was Klaus Fuchs the perfect spy? In The Spy Who Changed the World (Headline Publishing Group, London, 2014), Mike Rossiter explores how Fuchs managed to be a trusted and valued colleague to his British, Canadian and American colleagues while routinely passing on the results of their top-secret work to the Soviet Union.  Fuchs worked in New York and at Los Alamos as a member of the Theoretical Division under Hans Bethe. A brilliant mathematician who readily mastered nuclear physics, Fuchs used his prodigious photographic memory to replicate diagrams, formula and essential information. The Soviets were given a virtual blueprint for the first atomic bombs, with nothing asked for by Fuchs in return.


Mike Rossiter's account is a fascinating tale. In many respects, Fuchs was the perfect spy. All along, Fuchs developed trusting relationships, worked very hard and contributed significantly. Rossiter sifts through Fuchs's life story to piece together a compelling account of the spy who changed the world.  


Recent Additions to "Voices of the Manhattan Project"


David Kaiser is the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is author of the award winning book "Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics," and more recently published "How Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival." His discussion with Atomic Heritage Foundation President Cindy Kelly focuses on the birth of nuclear physics and the nuclear bomb, but ranges across scientific developments in the early-to-mid 20th Century. Kelly and Kaiser also deliberate on the facets of innovation, and connect the scientific legacy of the Manhattan Project to current scientific research.


General Leslie Groves, Part 7: In this interview, Groves discusses the relationship between Harold Urey and John Dunning, the two scientists who were in charge of developing the barrier material for the Gaseous Diffusion plant in Oak Ridge, TN.



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