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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Theodore Magel

MetallurgistLos Alamos, NM

Chicago, IL
Manhattan Project VeteranScientist
Theodore Magel

Dr. Theodore “Ted” Magel (1918-2008) was an American metallurgist.

After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, Magel joined the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory as a research associate. In 1944, he was asked to come to Los Alamos by J. Robert Oppenheimer to work on purifying plutonium.

At Los Alamos, Magel conducted one of the earliest refinements of plutonium metal using a centrifuge, producing the world’s first gram-scale pieces, or “buttons,” of plutonium metal. Subsequently, he was accidentally exposed to plutonium and had a piece of plutonium permanently lodged in his finger, but reported no health effects.

Theodore Magel's Timeline
1918 Nov 16th Born in Central City, Nebraska.
1941 Received a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.
1942 Joined the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago as a research associate.
1944 Feb Assigned to the Manhattan Project's weapons laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
1944 Mar 23rd Co-produced the first gram-scale piece of plutonium metal.
2008 Jan 3rd Died in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

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