Dr. Henry Frisch is a professor of physics at the University of Chicago. He is the son of David Frisch, who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. In this interview, Frisch discusses the University of Chicago’s role in the Manhattan Project and how leading figures at UChicago advocated for civilian control of atomic energy. He also shares some of his father’s stories from Los Alamos, and reflects on the challenges of addressing nuclear weapons today.
General Kenneth Nichols was the District Engineer for the Manhattan Engineering District, and oversaw the design and operation of the Hanford and Oak Ridge sites. He was responsible for securing the initial deals with Stone & Webster and the DuPont Company to develop the industry for the site, and lived for a time with his wife at Oak Ridge. He discusses sabotage and Klaus Fuchs, dealings with the British, and the very start of the Manhattan Project. He recalls some conflict between the scientists and engineers, the importance of industry in the project, and the initial problems with the startup of the B Reactor.
William Lanouette is the author of “Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb.” Lanouette highlights Szilard’s contributions to the Manhattan Project, including his theoretical discovery of chain reaction and critical mass, along with his efforts to curb the use of nuclear weapons after Germany surrendered. He provides an overview of Szilard’s life and his scientific contributions in many fields. Lanouette explains that Szilard’s legacy is not well known due to the vast scope of his work and because his brilliance put him too far ahead of his time.