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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Richard Money’s Interview

Richard “Dick” Money was a chemist. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago, where he was introduced to the Manhattan Project’s Metallurgical Laboratory. He was hired by the Met Lab and sent to work for Clinton Laboratories in Oak Ridge, TN during the Manhattan Project. He went on to work for Los Alamos National Laboratory for many years and then became a science and math teacher. In his interview, Money discusses how he became involved in the Manhattan Project and his jobs and responsibilities while working in these secret labs. He describes his post-war involvement with the Bikini Atoll tests and the Rover program at Los Alamos. Money also explains various scientific and chemical innovations made during the Manhattan Project and Cold War, as well as radiation accidents and safety procedures developed in response to the lab accidents. Finally, Money shares about his personal life and his transition from the laboratory to the classroom.

Robert Nobles and William Sturm’s Interview – Part 1

William Sturm and Robert Nobles were physicists working under Enrico Fermi’s supervision at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory. Both physicists worked with graphite and uranium ratios and arrangements in the Chicago Pile-1. In this interview, they recall the construction of Chicago Pile-1 and witnessing the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Sturm and Nobles discuss Fermi’s personality, noting his confidence and competence. They describe him as being one of the most brilliant physicists of his time, having knowledge of all fields of physics. The two also discuss the interactions between the different scientists on the project at Chicago and how their different personalities and specialties meshed together.

Norman Hilberry’s Interview (1965) – Part 2

Dr. Norman Hilberry was a physicist and the right-hand man to Arthur H. Compton at the Metallurgical Project (Met Lab) in Chicago. In the interview, Hilberry discusses the role he played as the Associate Project Director in Chicago. He elaborates on the process of obtaining large amounts of graphite, which was desperately needed, and extracting uranium metal. Hilberry also stresses the various and important roles played by corporations in the project.

Norman Hilberry’s Interview (1965) – Part 1

Physicist Norman Hilberry was Arthur H. Compton’s right-hand man at the Chicago Met Lab, serving as associate director and handling administration. Later in the war, he would often go back and forth from Chicago to Hanford. Hilberry recalls being present at the start-up of the B Reactor, its mysterious failure, and the rush to try to figure out what had caused the reactor to shut down. He also discusses his role in selecting Oak Ridge as the site for the pilot plutonium production plant and working with Eugene Wigner and DuPont on the design and operation of the plutonium production plants.

General Leslie Groves’s Interview – Part 3

In this interview, General Groves describes his first few weeks as the director of the Manhattan Project. He discusses his visits to the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University to meet with some of the top scientists who would be working on the project, including Arthur Compton and Dobie Keith.

Lawrence Litz’s Interview (2007)

Lawrence Litz was a young physicist when he began working on radioactivity at the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago. From there he was transferred to Los Alamos, where he worked on casting the plutonium hemispheres for the atomic bombs and became the first person to see metallic plutonium. He recalls the twenty-four hour shift he pulled to cast two more plutonium hemispheres in case a third atomic bomb was needed to force the Japanese to surrender.