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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Marshall Rosenbluth’s Interview

Marshall Rosenbluth was an American physicist who worked in the theoretical division at Los Alamos from 1950 to 1956. In this interview, Rosenbluth addresses the theoretical issues involved in designing both the atomic and hydrogen bombs. He discusses how the pressure to create a nuclear bomb before the Soviet Union affected work in the laboratory, especially in performing and checking calculations. Rosenbluth also recounts his experiences during the nuclear weapons tests at Los Alamos and Bikini Atoll. He recalls the roles of top scientists, like Edward Teller, Hans Bethe, Enrico Fermi, and Carson Mark, in the building of the hydrogen bomb. He also explains how funding and other external factors affected the hydrogen bomb’s design.

Raemer Schreiber’s Interview (1993)

Raemer Schreiber worked at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project and after the war developing the hydrogen bomb and the Rover nuclear rocket program. In 1945, Schreiber was transferred to the Gadget Division and was a member of the pit assembly team for the Trinity Test, watching the explosion from base camp. He flew to Tinian Island with two plutonium hemispheres and helped assemble the Fat Man bomb used on Nagasaki. He witnessed the 1946 radiation accident that killed Louis Slotin, but was allowed to leave Los Alamos after being examined to go to Eniwetok for the Bikini test. He recalls the challenges that went into designing the hydrogen bomb, as well as the personalities of various scientists including Edward Teller and Norris Bradbury.

Richard Shepard’s Interview

Richard Shepard joined the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, working in the K-25 Plant as a member of the Special Engineer Detachment. With many family members serving overseas in the military, he explains his personal reaction to the end of the war. He discusses his later work in nuclear science, including the Bikini Tests.

George Cowan’s Interview (2006)

George Cowan joined the Manhattan Project in 1942 at the Met Lab as a chemist for Enrico Fermi’s group, and also worked for Columbia University. Cowan describes his experience working with famous scientists, such as Chien-Shiung Wu and Eugene Wigner, and gives a detailed account of his role in Operation Crossroads, the first military test of the atomic bomb against Navy ships. Cowan shares some funny stories about his interaction with Arthur Compton at Oak Ridge and also recounts his meetings with Leo Szilard.

Jack Aeby’s Interview

Jack Aeby was one of the first civilian employees on the Manhattan Project, and captured the only color photograph of the Trinity test. 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. He discusses working with Emilio Segrè at Los Alamos, and how his famous photo of the Trinity test came about.