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In This Issue
70th Anniversary Events & Articles
AHF & NPS Tour Exhibition on Bombings
Manhattan Project in the News
"Voices of the Manhattan Project"
In Memoriam: Jack Aeby
Manhattan Project Spotlight: Isabella Karle
Anniversary70th Anniversary Events Photos & Articles

Over 300 people came to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Manhattan Project on June 2 and 3, 2015 in the Carnegie Institution of Science. Seventeen veterans and several former babies born to PO Box 1663 made for a very special event. As Deb Lindsey captured in dozens of photographs, the veterans enjoyed sharing their stories, reuniting with old friends, and meeting children of late friends. The photographs can be seen on our website and Facebook page.


Dr. Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science who spoke on the "Manhattan Project Innovations" panel, published a great piece on our events, What Remains of the Manhattan Project: "The symposium put on by the Atomic Heritage Foundation last week was really excellent - a really important event. The attendance was higher than I would have guessed. At least a dozen Manhattan Project veterans attended, and many children of Manhattan Project veterans (some of whom were born during the war) were there as well. There were also a lot of nuclear historians, scientists, and enthusiasts. I got to spend time talking with a lot of wonderful people who also cared a lot about, and took very seriously, the history of the atomic bomb." 

A number of media outlets covered the events. C-SPAN's American History TV recorded and broadcast three panels: Women of the Manhattan Project, Espionage and the Manhattan Project, and Remembering Groves and Oppenheimer. We will be getting full video of the events online soon.

 

Several Japanese media outlets also published stories about the events. Fuji News Network broadcast a segment (in Japanese) including excerpts from our events, along with an interview they conducted with Manhattan Project veteran Dr. Isabella Karle. Japan Economic Newswire and other Japanese outlets also reported favorably on the events.

 

AUExhibitionAHF & NPS Tour Exhibition on Bombings
Dr. Kenji Shiga with his translator at the exhibition

The American University Museum in Washington, DC is currently showing an exhibition on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The exhibition includes information about the bombings, 20 artifacts collected from the debris such as a pocket watch from Hiroshima, and a series of painted panels on folding screens depicting the bombings.

 

Many Japanese officials, including the Dr. Kenji Shiga, the Director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, attended the exhibition opening on June 13. They extended an invitation to the Atomic Heritage Foundation and the National Park Service (NPS) to tour the exhibition. 

 

AHF Program Director Alexandra Levy joined the National Park Service for the tour led by Dr. Shiga. Over half a dozen officials from the National Park were in attendance, including Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service; Victor Knox, Associate Director for Park Planning; and several other officials who have been involved with the planning for the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

 

A pocket watch from the exhibition, stopped at 8:16, when the bomb exploded over Hiroshima

Dr. Shiga explained the history of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, their significance in wartime Japan, and the short and long-term impact of the bombings on the cities and the victims, the hibakusha. He noted that Hiroshima had been declared a "no-bomb" city by the US to preserve it for the atomic bomb, a fact that especially struck Director Jarvis. Dr. Shiga discussed how the bombing affected him personally - that his grandmother survived the bombing of Hiroshima, but suffered terrible burns. In addition to reflecting on the bombings' legacy on the two cities today, Dr. Shiga emphasized that he hoped the NPS would collaborate with the Japanese to tell the full story of the bombings. 

 

In an interview with the Japanese media after the tour, Director Jarvis explained that the NPS hopes to feature artifacts from the bombings at the three Manhattan Project Park sites, to provide the Japanese perspective of the bombings. 

 

The Japanese newspapers Asahi Shimbun and The Japan Times reported on Director Jarvis's remarks.

 

NewsManhattan Project in the News
Dorothy McKibbin

With the approach of the 70th anniversaries of the Trinity test and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Manhattan Project has been a popular news topic. There were several interesting articles published in June concerning the Manhattan Project and its legacy.

 

The blog Atlas Obscura featured Dorothy McKibbin in "Dorothy McKibbin: The Manhattan Project's Secret Weapon." The article explored how McKibbin came to live in and love New Mexico, her unique role as the "Gatekeeper to Los Alamos," and her friendship with the scientists. AHF Program Director Alexandra Levy is quoted in the article: "Hers was the first friendly face that they saw, and many of the people who remember McKibbin talked about how polite she was, how friendly she was, how she helped put them at ease after their long trip."

The footprint of the demolished K-25 Plant. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo.

 

 


 

Photographer Jim Lo Scalzo traveled around the country capturing "the ghosts of America's atomic arsenal" for the photo collection Next Exit: Armageddon for Vice News. From pre-Manhattan Project sites such as the Hanford High School, to Manhattan Project properties around the country, to Cold War nuclear establishments including missile silos and control rooms, Scalzo and Vice News have put together a powerful collection of America's nuclear legacy.

 

A popular Spanish magazine, Dones Digitales, interviewed AHF President Cindy Kelly for an article on women in the Manhattan Project. Kelly explains in the article, "Women played a vital role in the Manhattan Project. For many of them, working on the project was a life-changing experience that ultimately influenced their later career." Click here for the English version of the article.

 

Voices"Voices of the Manhattan Project"

Thanks to the hard work of our research assistants Caitlyn Borghi, Ruthie Dannehy, and Reed Srere, we have made significant progress getting through our backlog of oral histories to add to our "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website. Recently added interviews include:

  • Stanislaus Ulam
    Stanislaus Ulam
    , father of the hydrogen bomb
  • Robert Serber, key physicist at Los Alamos and author of the Los Alamos Primer
  • Alfred Nier, pioneer in mass spectrometry
  • Helene Suydam, who now lives in the house on Bathtub Row in Los Alamos that Oppenheimer and his family occupied during the Manhattan Project
  • Roger Rohrbacher, instrument engineer at Hanford's B Reactor
  • Ralph Gates, who cast shape charges for the plutonium bombs at Los Alamos
  • J. Carson Mark, head of the theoretical division at LANL after the war
  • Louis Rosen, father of the Los Alamos Meson Facility
  • Irwin P. Sharpe, who worked on the Manhattan Project in Manhattan
  • Hans Courant, SED at Los Alamos, Trinity test eyewitness

We have also recently added over 20 other new interviews from men and women who worked on the Manhattan Project all over the country. Visit "Voices of the Manhattan Project" to check them out!

 

JackIn Memoriam: Jack Aeby

The Atomic Heritage Foundation is sad to report that Manhattan Project veteran Jack Aeby passed away on June 19, 2015. 

 

Jack came to New Mexico in 1943 and became one of the first civilian employees (#25) on the Manhattan Project. He worked in the Physics Group under Enrico Fermi and Emilio Segre. He secured his place in history as the man who took the only color photograph of the first atomic bomb test at Trinity on July 16, 1945. 

 

He reestablished Boy Scout Troop 22 in Los Alamos during World War II. In 1946 he worked as a photographer for Operation Crossroads and Special Representative of the Press for the Mound City News-Independent.

 

Following the war, as a graduate of Berkeley, he returned to Los Alamos. He retired from the Health Physics department at the Los Alamos National Laboratory after twenty years. He then began a second career with Eberline Instruments, dedicated to the clean-up of radioactive sites across the country as well as the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific.

 

AHF recorded a terrific interview with Jack in 2003, which can be watched on our "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website here. 

 

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. "That didn't seem to matter," says Karle. Her love of chemistry led to work on the Manhattan Project, a renowned career in the field of crystallography, and countless awards for revolutionary work on crystal structures.

 

Isabella's passion for learning began at an early age. Her parents, Zygmunt A. Lugoski and Elizabeth Graczy, emigrated from Poland during the early twentieth century and moved to Detroit, where Isabella was born. When her mother decided to open a restaurant in the early 1920s, she taught Isabella how to add numbers. "I soon became the accountant," says Isabella. "Fresh meat was delivered every day and the butcher left the bill that had to be paid once a week. So once a week, I added up all the numbers of the money that was owed to him."

 

When Isabella transferred to the University of Michigan, she enrolled in the chemistry program. That is where she met her match and future husband, Jerome Karle, "an exceptional student who got through school in record time" and had a passion for chemistry. As two of the top students in the chemistry lab, Isabella and Jerome regularly tried to beat each other's scores. The two also began spending time together outside the classroom. They married in 1942. 

 

Photo courtesy of the International Union of Crystallography.

 

With the war in Europe already raging, Jerome was selected for a secret project in Chicago that could help the Allies win the war. After completing her Ph.D. in 1943, she too was invited to work on the secret project. "It turned out to be the plutonium project in what was called New Chemistry at the University of Chicago," says Isabella. "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."

 

At twenty-three years of age, Isabella was one of the youngest scientists at the laboratory and one of only a handful of women. "I looked like any other student at the University-I still wore pigtails and walked around campus freely," she remembers.

 

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 mathematical equations needed to analyze the molecules while Isabella provided the experimental data to prove that they worked.

 

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, says Isabella. "But I told him to forget about it. I had enough awards as it was."

 

Isabella won numerous prizes for her experimental work. "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 the full article on Isabella Karle, click here. For her interview on "Voices of the Manhattan Project," click here.

 

We have been working hard to bring the Manhattan Project history to you through our events and on the web. Please consider making a donation to support our efforts. Thank you!

Sincerely, 
sig
President
Atomic Heritage Foundation 
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