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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Volney C. Wilson

Research AssociateChicago, IL

Manhattan Project VeteranProject Worker/Staff

Volney C. Wilson was a research associate at the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Lab (“Met Lab”) during the Manhattan Project.

He was born in 1910 in Evanston, Illinois, and had an expansive education, attending Northwestern and Ohio State before getting his Physics Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1938, specializing in plasma and thermal physics. He then worked at the radiation lab at MIT for a time before joining the Met Lab in Chicago in 1942. He was present on December 2, 1942, when Chicago Pile-1 went critical and was one of the people to sign the Chianti bottle team leader Eugene Wigner had opened to celebrate the occasion. 

After the war, Wilson went to work at General Electric research laboratory, where he remained until he retired in 1972. He died in Wisconsin on April 1, 2006, at the age of 96. 

Volney C. Wilson's Timeline
1910 Born in Evanston, Ill
1938 Received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
19411942 Worked at the MIT Radiation Lab.
Started at the Met Lab in Chicago under Eugene Wigner.
1942 Dec 2nd Present when Chicago Pile-1 went critical.
1972 Retired from General Electric.
2006 Apr 1st Died of natural causes in Wisconsin.

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