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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Dana Mitchell

PhysicistLos Alamos, NM

Columbia University
Manhattan Project VeteranScientist
Mitchell (left) with Fermi and Dunning.

Dana Mitchell was an American physicist. 

He was in charge of procurement for the physics department at Columbia University during the first year of the Manhattan Project. In spring 1943, Robert Oppenheimer asked Mitchell to come out to the Los Alamos Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Mitchell sat on the lab’s Governing Board and was in charge of equipment procurement. After Hans Bethe mentioned the labs difficulties with calculating the behavior of the gun-type weapon, Mitchell suggested using IBM 601 punched-card accounting machines to run complex neutron diffusion equations. The IBM machines cut the time for a single calculation down from six to eight months to three to four weeks. 

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