Warren Nyer is one of very few physicists who worked at all four main sites – Chicago, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Hanford – of the Manhattan Project. He began working on the classified project at the young age of nineteen. He discusses his interactions with Oppenheimer and Fermi, along with the excitement of viewing the world’s first nuclear test at Trinity. Nyer also describes his living situation at Hanford, from the dormitories to the houses. Finally, he offers his justification for the use of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Chemist Orville Hill joined the Met Lab at the University of Chicago in May of 1942, three months after it was created. After a stint at Oak Ridge, he went to Hanford in 1944. At Hanford, he worked to improve the plutonium separation process. After the war, he worked at Los Alamos and was tasked with studying bomb debris from the Bikini atomic bomb tests. Eventually, he returned to Hanford looking for a better way to separate plutonium from irradiated uranium. In this interview, he recalls his first days at Chicago and remembers meeting Enrico Fermi. He describes the excitement and pressure of the Manhattan Project: “We were on the frontiers. We were doing things that I hadn’t dreamed of doing even a year before.”