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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Jack Aeby graduated Mound City (MO) High School in 1941. He went to the University of Nebraska, studying chemistry until the spring of 1943 when he received his draft notice.  He was found to be 4-F for TB scars on his lungs. He went to New Mexico to try and clear them so he could reattempt to enlist later. He was one of the first civilian employees on the Manhattan Project.

He worked in many areas starting with transporting people from Lamy to 109 E. Palace Avenue in Santa Fe and then on up the Hill.  He was put in charge of the chemical stockroom.  Aeby moved to P-5 (Physics Group 5) with Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain. He reactivated the Los Alamos Ranch School’s Boy Scout Troop 22 on demand of the school superintendent. 

Segrè secured permission for Jack to bring his own, personal camera (Perfex 44) to document the activities of his group at Trinity.  It had been loaded with approximately 3’ of Anscochrome color film (tail end of motion picture film).  He was at Base Camp opposite all the official photographic equipment. He captured the only color photograph of the Trinity test. His image is often reversed to match the black and white photographs.  The only “official” color film shot was motion picture and it solarized in the light of the blast.

He continued to work in Los Alamos through the Crossroads Tests. He then returned to school at Berkeley, where he graduated in 1949.  He went back to work for the Los Alamos National Labs in the Health Physics department.

Information submitted by his daughter, Beth Aeby.

The only color photo of the Trinity test, taken by Jack Aeby

Jack Aeby's Los Alamos ID Photo

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