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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Lew Kowarski’s Interview – Part 2

Lew Kowarski was a Russian-born French physicist who worked as part of the team that discovered that neutrons were emitted in the fission of uranium-235 in the late 1930s, setting the groundwork for the use of nuclear chain reactions in the design of the atomic bomb. After the Second World War, Kowarski went on to supervise the first French nuclear reactors and became a staff member in the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, in 1953. In this interview Kowarski recounts his experience secretly transporting the French supply of heavy water to England to keep it out of Nazi hands. He also discusses his time working in the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University with James Chadwick and other esteemed physicist. He also explains the Manhattan Project from a European perspective, including the increasing secrecy of the project.

Roy Glauber’s Interview (2013)

Roy Glauber was just eighteen years old when he was selected to leave his studies at Harvard to join the work of the Los Alamos Laboratory on the Manhattan Project. He journeyed from Stanta Fe Station in Lamy, New Mexico in a car with John von Neumann. Glauber worked in the theoretical division under Hans Bethe, and talks about Edward Teller, Richard Feynman, Stanislaus Ulam, and other luminaries. Glauber went on to become a leader in physics, winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005 for his work on quantum optics. He also talks about his early interest in astronomy and physics, cultivated by clubs and teachers.