Sir Rudolf Peierls was a German-born physicist. He worked with Wolfgang Pauli in Switzerland, and moved to England when Hitler rose to power in 1933. In March 1940, Peierls and fellow colleague Otto Frisch co-authored the Frisch-Peierls memorandum, the first technical exposition of a practical atomic weapon. Peierls joined the British Mission and worked on the Manhattan Project in New York and Los Alamos. In this interview, Peierls discusses his work in atomic research and how the Frisch-Peierls memorandum was developed. He recalls going sailing with Oppenheimer, and how the scientists at Los Alamos respected Oppenheimer’s leadership.
Robert Serber was an American physicist. In 1941, Serber was recruited by J. Robert Oppenheimer to work on the Manhattan Project. Serber was tasked with explaining the basic principles and goals of the project to all incoming scientific staff. Moving to Los Alamos in 1943, he gave lecturers to members of the Manhattan Project about the design and construction of atomic bombs. His lectures were known as the “Los Alamos Primer.” In this interview with Richard Rhodes, he discusses the decision to develop a hydrogen bomb. Serber also recalls Oppenheimer’s security hearing, the Chevalier conversation, and how the hearing changed Oppenheimer. Serber also explains why his loyalty was questioned by the government, and why the government was suspicious of his wife.