Siegfried Hecker is an American scientist who served as the Director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1986 to 1997. He is currently Professor (Research) of Management Science and Engineering and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. His acceptance of the directorship of Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1986 was preceded by the Reykjavik Summit and unprecedented discussions of disarmament. In this interview, he discusses the obstacles to and immense gains from working with Russian nuclear scientists at the end of the Cold War. Specifically, he describes his involvement in the joint-verification experiments carried out in Nevada and at the Russian nuclear facility in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan.
Marshall Rosenbluth was an American physicist who worked in the theoretical division at Los Alamos from 1950 to 1956. In this interview, Rosenbluth addresses the theoretical issues involved in designing both the atomic and hydrogen bombs. He discusses how the pressure to create a nuclear bomb before the Soviet Union affected work in the laboratory, especially in performing and checking calculations. Rosenbluth also recounts his experiences during the nuclear weapons tests at Los Alamos and Bikini Atoll. He recalls the roles of top scientists, like Edward Teller, Hans Bethe, Enrico Fermi, and Carson Mark, in the building of the hydrogen bomb. He also explains how funding and other external factors affected the hydrogen bomb’s design.
George Cowan was a physical chemist who joined the Manhattan Project in 1942. In this interview, Cowan discusses the Soviet atomic program and their effort to build a nuclear bomb. In 1949, he helped convince U.S. government officials that the radiochemistry of air samples taken from the atmosphere proved that the Soviets had detonated their own atomic bomb, rather than what many assumed was just a peaceful nuclear reactor problem. Cowan also discusses Operation Crossroads, where he helped take air samples during atomic tests at Eniwetok Atoll in 1946.