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Notes for Chapter Seven


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Notes for Chapter Seven

. The benefit was a welcome-home party for violinist Issac Stern, recently returned from a USO tour of Russia. In his memoirs, Kamen remembered the party as being at Stern’s house, but confirmed that it was Bransten who introduced him to Kheifets. Kamen, 164-65.

2. Lansdale to Osborne, July 17, 1944, Tolman papers, OSRD/NARA; Lyall Johnson interview (1996). “Martin Kamen was my best source of information. I learned far more than I was ever supposed to about the plutonium project.” Interview with Clarence Larson, Nov. 5, 1992, Washington, D.C.

3. Kamen had gone to Ernest Lawrence first but, receiving no response, next approached John. The Soviet diplomat in Portland died before treatments could begin. San Francisco field report, May 7, 1956, John Hundale Lawrence file, #77-32400, FBI.

4. Ironically, Kheifets was reportedly recalled to Moscow for his failure to recruit more spies. In 1948, Kheifets would be arrested in another of Stalin’s purges and accused of involvement in a “Zionist conspiracy.” He was rehabilitated after Stalin’s death. Kharon’s was a better fate than that suffered by his superior, Merkulov, who was executed along with Beria after Stalin died in early 1953. Kamen incident: U.S. Congress, “Excerpts from Hearings Regarding Investigation of Communist Activities in Connection with the Atom Bomb,” (1948 HUAC hearings), Sept. 9, 14, and 16, 1948 (U.S. GPO, Wash., D.C., 1948), 11-49; Sudaplatov et. al., 214, 298; Weinstein and Vassiliev, 334.

5. Lyall Johnson interview (1996).

6. Fred “Dusty” Rhodes, April 12, 2001, personal communication. The farce was complete when the taxi bearing Kamen and the Russians got lost and was forced to make a U-turn on a dead-end street, followed closely behind by the agents’ car. “To an observer it probably looked like a Mack Sennett comedy in the making.” Lyall Johnson, Feb. 4, 1998, personal communication.

7. Office of Naval Investigation agents had somehow also learned of the rendezvous and were likewise waiting for the trio. Phil Scheidermayer, May 8, 1998, personal communication.

8. The agents–-and, subsequently, congressmen–-differed on what Kamen told the Russians. In 1945, Groves told the Top Policy Group in Washington that Kamen was a “key scientist” who had compromised uranium separation secrets at Oak Ridge. Kamen claimed that he and the Russians only talked about the medical use of radioisotopes. The FBI report on the incident does not contradict Kamen’s account. “Summary: Russian Situation,” n.d., Recently Declassified Extracts, MED/NARA; Glavin to Tolson, Sept. 29, 1948, 56-57, HUAC file, FBI; interview with Martin Kamen, May 10, 1997, Santa Barbara, Calif.

9. Groves noted that Bransten later wrote to Kamen, thanking him for the scientific abstracts. “Summary: Russian Situation,” n.d., Recently Declassified Extracts, MED/NARA.

0. Fidler to Lawrence, July 11, 1944, folder 10, carton 10, EOL. Several weeks later, Lawrence tried to get Kamen a new job with James Franck at the University of Chicago. Franck answered that there were “difficulties.” “The authorities,” he wrote, “who feel that Dr. Kamen should not accept a position in the Bay Region, informed me after my first exchange of letters with Kamen that the same would be true for Chicago also.” Lawrence to Franck, Sept. 2, 1944; Franck to Lawrence, Sept. 8, 1944, folder 10, carton 10, EOL.

1. Harold Fidler interview (1992).

2. “I still want to do something about the war besides having a son in it...but so far nobody will have me.” Chevalier to Edouard, Feb. 20, 1945, “Correspondence, 1944-45,” Chevalier papers.

3. The wartime personal correspondence of Jackie and Frank Oppenheimer is in an unmarked folder in the Frank Oppenheimer papers, Bancroft Library.

4. Perhaps the best evidence that Oppie was not a spy surfaced in 1999: in a February 1944 cable reportedly sent to Moscow Center from New York, the NKVD was still evidently hopeful of recruiting Oppenheimer, possibly with the assistance of his brother. Oppie and Frank were identified, respectively, by the codenames Chester and Ray:

According to the information we have, Chester has been cultivated by the Neighbors (GRU) since June 1942. In case Chester is recruited by them, it is necessary to have him passed to us. If the recruitment is not realized, we must get from the Neighbors all materials on Chester and begin his active cultivation through channels we have...including Chester’s brother, Ray, also a professor at the University of California and a member of the Compatriot Organization (Communist Party) but politically closer to us than Chester.

Weinstein and Vassiliev, 183-84. The message also identified Robert Oppenheimer as a “secret member of the Compatriot organization,” or Communist Party. There is no independent collaboration of the authenticity of this cable as of this writing.

5. Agents noted that the items in Oppie’s luggage included a bottle of anti-diarrhea medicine, a vial of Vitamin B tablets, a detective novel titled D as in Dead, a mostly-empty fifth of Black Bear Gin, a full pint of 27-year-old brandy, and underwear. An electronic device found in Oppie’s overcoat occasioned some excitement until the G-men realized that it was a dry-cell battery.

6. During his Berkeley visit, Oppie had discussed with Lawrence whether Bernard Peters should be dismissed from the Rad Lab staff. Lawrence told Oppie that he had heard rumors that Peters was about to be fired “due to low moral standards and generally loose living.” Although he personally did not condone such behavior, Ernest said, he did not believe they had any bearing on whether a man should work at the Radiation Laboratory. Stern, 43.

7. Vincent Jones (1985) 265; U.S. Congress, “Testimony of James Sterling Murray and Edward Tiers Manning,” Hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities” (1949 HUAC hearings), Aug. 14 and Oct. 5, 1949 (U.S. GPO, Wash., D.C., 1950), 877-78.

8. Titus to Groves, Feb. 20, 1946, file 132.2, entry 5, MED/NARA.

9. Lyall Johnson interview (1996).

20. Phillip Morrison, one of Oppie’s grad students who knew Peters, later described him as “a little different from us, more mature, marked with a special seriousness and intensity.” When Morrison got a teaching job across the Bay in 1940, Peters gave him his old Model T Ford–-“Felix”–-to commute to work. Oppenheimer described Peters to DeSilva as “truly dangerous,” a “crazy person” who was “quite Red, whose actions would be unpredictable and whose background was filled with incidents which would indicate his tendency toward direct action.” Peters was a German-born, anti-Nazi activist who had escaped from Dachau and come to America in 1934, later becoming a naturalized citizen. His wife, Hannah--another German refugee and a friend of Oppie’s and Jean Tatlock’s--was a physician at a San Francisco hospital and a Party member close to Steve Nelson. Oppenheimer was probably aware that the Army and FBI were already investigating the couple, since Bernard was prominent in FAECT and had recently been outspoken in protesting the summary assignment of union members to Oak Ridge. Bernard Peters’ name had been on a list of four that DeSilva showed to Oppenheimer, which included Weinberg. DeSilva to Calvert, Jan. 6, 1944, box 1, AEC/JRO. Peters: Phillip Morrison, “Heaven and Earth One Substance: Bernard Peters and the Heavy Primaries,” Current Science, Dec. 10, 1991, 743; Childs (1968), 353; U.S. AEC, ITMOJRO, 120-21, 150-51; Bernard Peters MID file, Aug. 6, 1943, entry 8, box 100, MED/NARA. Early in 1944, the FBI monitored the efforts of a Bay area Party member to arrange a meeting between Nelson and Bernard Peters, the latter described as “the guy who is connected with a certain doctor.” Nelson, however, advised the intermediary to go through “the regular channels–-professional section.” San Francisco field report, May 31, 1944, section 44, COMRAP file, FBI.

2. In January 1944, Army agents monitoring the bug in Weinberg’s home overheard this comment by Joe to his wife concerning Lomanitz: “They would not have sprung a trap on (Rossi) if they did not have reason to believe that something was wrong with (Rossi’s?) activities. They’re wrong but they have reason to believe.” Weinberg also said that he and Bohm were in “complete cahoots.” Summary report, Jan. 31, 1947, 19-21, CINRAD file, FBI. Lomanitz used his clerk’s assignment to inspect his own personnel record, which had stapled to it a note that he was not to be transferred without the express permission of the commanding general of the 44th Infantry. Lomanitz interview (1996).

22. Except for a three-month visit by Weinberg to the East Coast in late summer 1945, CIC agents uncovered no further instances of “Joe” trying to pass atomic secrets. In New York, Weinberg contacted Columbia professor Aristid von Grosse, a chemist who had been fired from the SAM laboratory in January 1944 as a security risk. Van Grosse, who had gone to Moscow the previous year to lecture at the Soviet Academy of Sciences, has been suggested as a candidate for the as-yet-unidentified Soviet agent Quantum. Summary report, April 22, 1947, 57, COMRAP file, FBI; Albright and Kunstel, 104-105.

23. “John Lansdale, Jr.: Military Service,” 44-45.

24. Rhodes (1986), 654. However, Groves would later claim that transferring Frank to Los Alamos was a fait accompli on Oppie’s part, and that he had not been consulted about the move.

25. The transfer obviously allowed Oppie to keep a closer watch on his brother. Frank’s meager responsibilities at the lab included drafting a list of safety dos-and-don’ts for the upcoming bomb test. “Safety Precautions,” n.d., #90339, U.S. Dept. of Energy Coordination and Information Center, Las Vegas, Nevada (CIC/DOE).

26. Frank Oppenheimer interview, box 2, Child papers; Childs (1968), 354.

27. Lansdale to R. Oppenheimer, n.d., Lansdale folder, JRO. Lansdale explained to Kitty that the apparent evidence of tampering, including lint found on the envelope flap, was from the manner in which her father sealed the letters--by sitting on them.

28. Lawrence to Conant, May 31, 1944, OSRD/NARA; Oppenheimer to Lawrence, May 24, 1944, Los Alamos file, box 7, Underhill papers, LANL; Hewlett and Anderson, 166.

29. The first hybrid racetrack–-using the magnet and vacuum tanks of the Alpha I but Alpha II’s higher voltage four-beam source–-began its inaugural run on June 3, 1944. Hopes for the improved Calutron faded immediately, however, when insulators broke down under the greater load and the new machine sputtered to a halt. Improved heat shielding and better insulators solved the problem. Brown and MacDonald (eds.), 170; Hewlett and Anderson, 155.

30. Interview with Herbert York, Mar. 14, 1997, La Jolla, CA.; Vincent Jones (1985), 145.

3. Vincent Jones (1985), 143.

32. Serber (1998), 104.

33. Conant, “Report on Visit to Los Alamos,” Aug. 17, 1944, #86, Bush-Conant file, OSRD/NARA.

34. Brown and MacDonald (eds.), 171; Rhodes (1986), 600.

35. Thermal diffusion had been pioneered by Rad Lab veteran Phil Abelson. Hewlett and Anderson, 168-73.

36. Hewlett and Anderson, 300.

37. Nov. 13, 1944, Groves diary, Groves/NARA.

38. Childs (1968), 357.

39. A similar study was already underway at the University of Chicago, with Arthur Compton’s blessing. The other members of Tolman’s committee were Rear Adm. Earle Mills, Warren Lewis, and Henry Smyth. Tolman Committee: Groves to Tolman, Aug. 29, 1944, file 334, series 5, MED/NARA; Hewlett and Anderson, 324-25; Vincent Jones (1985), 556-58.

40. Tolman to Lawrence, Sept. 16, 1944, file 334, series 5, MED/NARA.

4. The Booster would increase the power of an atomic bomb by incorporating deuterium in its design. Oppenheimer to Tolman, Sept. 20, 1944, file 334, series 5, MED/NARA. Following an hour-long briefing on the Super during a visit to Los Alamos in October 1944, Conant wrote to Bush that the weapon was “probably at least as distant now as was the fission bomb when you and I first heard of the enterprise.” Rhodes (1986), 563.

42. Untitled memo, Oct. 1944, folder 37, carton 29, EOL.

43. Ernest used the occasion to promote the civilian applications of atomic energy--”Government should not merely control it, but should control and foster it on a very substantial scale,” he stressed--as well as nuclear propulsion for ships and aircraft, and “new applications for radioactive isotopes.” Lawrence also spoke excitedly of a new cyclotron capable of producing energies up to one billion electron volts: “This could be done in the immediately foreseeable future. I could make a good start inside of a year if so directed...All this appears to us to be straightforward and do-able.” Notes, Nov. 8, 1944, box 9, Tolman file, OSRD/NARA.

44. U.S. AEC, ITMOJRO, 956.

45. Nov. 8 and Nov. 23, 1944, Groves diary, Groves/NARA; transcript of telephone conversation, Jan. 19, 1945, Book 6, box 1, Rad Lab records.

46. With other separation methods at last realizing their potential, Groves was disinclined to spend any more money on the Calutrons. Having recently approved construction of two more Beta racetracks at Oak Ridge, Groves informed Ernest that these machines would be the last. Nonetheless, Lawrence telegraphed Groves on January 6 to badger him again for “a continuing construction program to the end of the war.”

47. Dec. 27, 1944, Groves diary, Groves/NARA.

48. Tolman’s report recommended that research be continued after the war on uranium separation, thermonuclear weapons, radiological warfare, and atomic energy’s industrial uses. “Report of Committee on Postwar Policy,” Dec. 28, 1944, file 3, Part II, series 1, MED/NARA.

49. Ernest was not willing to admit defeat. On January 1, 1945, Conant telephoned Groves to warn that Lawrence had just been in his office and was “on the warpath” for postwar expansion of Y-12. Lawrence to Groves, Jan. 6, 1945, folder 37, carton 28, EOL.

50. In an earlier conversation, Lawrence had thanked Oppenheimer for his help in getting the expansion plan approved. Transcript of telephone conversation, Jan. 19, 1945, Book 6, box 1, Rad Lab records. The following day, however, Oppie called Groves to request a meeting at Los Alamos--to have “several matters straightened out; EOL for one.” Jan. 20, 1945, Groves diary, Groves/NARA.

5. Groves had originally considered asking Nichols to deliver the bad news during a visit to Oak Ridge. Instead, he assigned the task to his secretary, Jean O’Leary. It was Fidler who received O’Leary’s call. Transcript of telephone conversation, Feb. 27, 1945, Book 6, box 1, Rad Lab records; Feb. 27, 1945, Groves diary, Groves/NARA.

52. Vincent Jones (1985), 510.

53. Chemical explosives for the lenses that fit around the plutonium core of Fat Man were poured in March. The sea urchin-shaped polonium initiator for the implosion bomb was scheduled to be ready in May, when the lens system would also be tested. Hoddeson et. al., 335-49.

54. Tatlock’s death added to the mystery of her life. Her father, who discovered the body, burned his daughter’s personal papers in the apartment fireplace before calling a funeral home, which notified the coroner’s office and the police. Jenkins, 24-25; Schwartz, 378-79.

55. Brown and MacDonald (eds.), 171; Vincent Jones (1985), 148.

56. Work force reductions at Y-12 and Rad Lab: Entries for April-May 1945, Cooksey diary, folder 23, carton 4, EOL; transcripts of telephone conversations, Book 7, box 1, Rad Lab records; May 3, 1945, Groves diary, Groves/NARA.

57. Oppenheimer continued to foil Underhill’s efforts to find out about the project. In an unpublished memoir, Underhill described what happened during one of his visits, when an uninitiated physicist began explaining what he did at the lab: “Oppenheimer hit him in the ribs--I could almost hear two ribs cracking when his elbow hit him there--and the fellow promptly shut up, so he wouldn’t tell me what was going on.” Transcript of interview, box 2, Underhill papers, Bancroft Library. Whereas Sproul naively hoped to mention the University’s role in the bomb project during his biennial report--in an effort to “dress up his report to the people”--Nichols instructed Fidler to politely but “quite emphatically” inform the University president that no mention of the Army contracts was to be made. Fidler to the file, Aug. 4, 1944, folder 4, box 13, Underhill papers, LANL.

58. In addition to Fuchs, David Greenglass, and Ted Hall--an idealistic 19-year-old Harvard physics graduate, who had arrived at Los Alamos the following January and began to spy shortly thereafter–-there were reportedly other Soviet spies, as-yet-unrevealed, at the New Mexico lab. Sudaplatov et. al., 172-219; Albright and Kunstel, 100-109. Hall was assigned to work alongside Luis Alvarez on an experiment to measure the efficiency of implosion. Alvarez never suspected that the man he regularly beat at billards in late-night games at Fuller Lodge was a Russian agent. Alvarez (1987), 136-37. In Moscow, the daughter of the top Soviet spy in the U.S., Zoya Zarubina, was put in charge of translating the technical papers collected by her father. Zarubina writes that extra translators had to be brought in from the Urals, Central Asia, and even prison camps to deal with the haul. Zoya Zarubina and Inez Jeffery, Inside Russia: The Life and Times of Zoya Zarubina (Eakin Press, 1999), 16-17.

59. Kurchatov to Pervukhin, April 7, 1945, reprinted in Sudaplatov et. al., 460-61.

60. Kurchatov to Pervukhin, March 7, 1945, reprinted in Sudaplatov et. al., 446. “Therefore, it is far from obvious that the use of uranium-hydride instead of uranium will yield that significant (almost 20-fold) gain with regard to the mass, which the materials suggest.” Kurchatov to Pervukhin, March 16, 1945, Sudaplatov et. al., 458-59.

6. San Francisco to Moscow, Jan. 10, 1945, Venona decrypts; Benson, “Venona Historical Monograph #3,” 3.

62. San Francisco to Moscow, April 3, 1945, Venona decrypts. May had earlier cabled Moscow that he intended to use an Amtorg official, Andrei Orlov, codenamed Volkov, for “technical liaison” with Uncle and Map. There are no clues in the message as to the nature of Uncle’s “unfortunate password.”

63. The morning of the scheduled meeting, May telephoned the sixty-five-year-old Folkoff only to learn that Uncle had forgotten both his password and where the rendezvous was to take place. “Since I shall have to go to him at his house telegraph without delay whether he has a family and whether they know about his relations with us,” May implored Fitin. San Francisco to Moscow, April 6, 1945, Venona decrypts.

64. Earlier, Apresyan informed Moscow that he had “already established official contact with (Map’s) institution,” presumably the American-Russian Institute in San Francisco. San Francisco to Moscow, April 3, 1945, Venona decrypts.

65. San Francisco to Moscow, May 4, 1945, Venona decrypts. White and the UN: Romerstein and Breindel, 48-49; Weinstein and Vassiliev, 168 fn.

66. The previous summer, when Kheifets was about to return to Moscow, Chevalier had given him a letter to be delivered to the daughter of the Mexican ambassador in Moscow. The missive was a letter of introduction for Kheifets. Chevalier wrote: “I have asked him to look you up and talk to you. I think you will like him and find him extremely interesting. He is very intelligent, has an extremely interesting history, a great fund of knowledge and is very loyal and steadfast, and I hope you will see something of him. I commend him to you most warmly.” Chevalier to Jane Quintanilla, June 29, 1944, “Correspondence, 1944-45,” Chevalier papers. That spring, Pieper asked Hoover for permission to reassign some of the agents, since he thought such intensive surveillance was no longer justified. Pieper to Hoover, April 24, 1945, section 4, Chevalier file, FBI.

67. While Bransten defended Moscow resolutely, Chevalier was more critical of Communist dogma: “One of the things wrong with Communism is that it has failed to understand people enough. They have trusted some unreliable persons too much and have not trusted others who deserve to be trusted...You can’t change your opinion every week. That’s the trouble with the Communist press. They’re always changing their mind.” San Francisco field report, Jan. 26, 1945, section 3, Chevalier file, FBI.

68. Bureau agents overheard Frank promise to attend a subsequent reception at the consulate, in September, where old scientific journals would be collected to send to Russia. It was evidently at this reception that Ernest joined the American-Russian Institute, paying $5 for the first year’s dues. Lawrence’s actions would later get him into trouble with the FBI, which obtained ARI membership rolls in a subsequent black-bag operation. But a 1951 field report in Lawrence’s file noted that he “has been a friendly and cooperative contact of the San Francisco Office for the past several years.” Unidentified agent to Whitson, Oct. 6, 1949, and San Francisco field report, Feb. 20, 1951, Ernest Lawrence file, #116-10798, FBI.

69. “Report of Meeting with the President,” April 25, 1945, file 24, series 1, part 1, MED/NARA.

70. “Summary Russian Situation,” n.d., Recently Declassified Extracts, MED/NARA. Groves had a ready answer to another question–-when other nations might get the bomb–-during the briefing for Byrnes. Earlier, the general had posed the question to G.M. Read, a DuPont representative, who gave this blunt reply: “4 to 5 years on the Russians, 2 to 3 on the Englishmen and damn near eternity on the French.” Groves’ estimate was that it would take the Russians twenty year or more to produce a bomb. Transcript of telephone conversation, May 21, 1945, file 12, series 1, part 1, MED/NARA.

7. Entry, May 28, 1945, Groves diary, Groves/NARA. According to NKVD cables sent to the New York consulate, the Soviets hoped to use the occasion to forge personal links with several U.S. atomic scientists, including Lawrence, Fermi, and Arthur Compton; none of these accepted the invitation, however. Moscow to New York, April 3, 1945, Venona decrypts; Weinstein and Vassiliev, 209-10.

72. The other members of the Interim Committee were Under Secretary of the Navy Ralph Bard, Assistant Secretary of State William Clayton, Vannevar Bush, James Conant, and Karl Compton. George Harrison, the president of New York Life Insurance Company and Stimson’s wartime deputy, served as his alternate on the committee. Interim Committee: Martin Sherwin, A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and the Origins of the Arms Race (Vintage, 1987), 169-70.

73. The Bush-Conant memo also concerned what its authors called “the super-super bomb.” Conant received Stimson’s permission to expand the panel’s charter: its members would be “free not only to discuss technical matters but also to present to the Committee their views concerning the political aspects of the problem.” “Notes of an Informal Meeting,” May 15, 1945, file 100, MED/NARA. Stimson called it the Interim Committee “in view of the fact that, at the proper time, Congress would probably establish by law a permanent body to supervise, regulate, and control the entire field.” “Notes of an Informal Meeting,” May 9, 1945, file 100, MED/NARA. Scientific Panel: Hewlett and Anderson, 344-45; Sherwin (1987), 169; May 10, 1945, Groves diary, Groves/NARA.

74. “Memorandum for the Secretary,” May 30, 1945, and “Memorandum for Mr. Schott,” May 30, 1945, file 100, MED/NARA.

75. “Notes of the Interim Committee Meeting,” May 31, 1945, file 100, MED/NARA; James Byrnes, All In One Lifetime (Harper, New York, 1958), 283.

76. “He felt that research had to go on unceasingly...He thought it might be possible one day to secure our energy from terrestrial sources rather than from the sun. Dr. Lawrence pointed out that there was no real doubt about the soundness of the program. Any failures that occurred or would occur in the future were nothing more than temporary setbacks and there was every reason to believe that such setbacks would be quickly overcome.”

77. Oppenheimer suggested that “we might open up this subject with them in a tentative fashion and in the most general terms without giving them any details of our productive effort.”

78. The quotation is from Lawrence’s subsequent account of the meeting in a letter to a friend, Karl Darrow, a historian of science. Darrow to Lawrence, Aug. 9, 1945, and Lawrence to Darrow, Aug. 17, 1945, folder 20, carton 28, EOL; Compton, 238.

79. Bush and Conant, for example, had raised the possibility of a demonstration–-of the bomb, or possibly radiological poisons--in their September 30, 1944 memo to Stimson: “This demonstration might be over enemy territory, or in our own country, with subsequent notice to Japan that the materials would be used against the Japanese mainland unless surrender was forthcoming.” According to Robert Wilson, the demonstration was also discussed on at least two occasions at Los Alamos, in meetings of March 1943 and late 1944 that he helped to organize. Oppenheimer spoke against the demonstration at the later meeting, Wilson recalled. Author interview with Robert Wilson, April 15, 1983, Los Alamos, NM.

80. No notes were taken of this lunchtime discussion and two conflicting versions exist. Lawrence claimed in August 1945 that he had raised the subject of the demonstration at the morning meeting and Byrnes inquired about it at lunch. Compton, writing in Atomic Quest more than a decade after these events, contended that it was he who brought up the subject at the table with Stimson. Compton also claimed that he and Lawrence had agreed as early as 1941 that the bomb was for the Germans and should not be used against the Japanese. Herbert Childs interview with Arthur Compton, n.d., Childs papers.

8. The phrase is from Lawrence’s letter to Darrow. Aug. 17, 1945, folder 20, carton 28, EOL.

82. “[Szilard’s] general demeanor and his desire to participate in policy making made an unfavorable impression on me,” Byrnes (1958), 284. Szilard’s petition: Lanouette (1992), 265-74.

83. Oppenheimer to Groves, May 7, 1945, Bomb Design and Testing folder, U.S. Army Chief of Staff.

84. Franck report: Sherwin (1987), 210-15. The report is reprinted in Alice Kimball Smith, A Peril and a Hope: The Scientists’ Movement in America, 1945-47 (MIT Press, 1970), 371-83.

85. Coincidentally, the idea of a demonstration had been resurrected as well by Glenn Seaborg, one of the contributors to the Franck report, in a letter that Lawrence received just before leaving for Los Alamos. Echoing the views of his Chicago colleagues, Seaborg wrote: “It seems certain that the moral position of our country would be greatly strengthened if the first demonstration of this weapon were made upon some uninhabited island, in the presence of the invited representatives of all the leading countries of the world, including Japan.” Seaborg to Lawrence, June 13, 1945, folder 22, carton 30, EOL.

86. Peter Wyden, Day One: Before Hiroshima and After (Simon and Schuster, 1984), 170-71. Teller claimed that Fermi asked his opinion on how the bomb should be used about this time, and that his answer was “noncommittal”--not realizing that Fermi was on a panel advising on the weapon’s use. “Had I known, I would have said that it should be tested and then shown, but not used.” Edward Teller, Feb. 26, 1999, personal communication.

87. Although Compton had commissioned the Franck report, he did not agree with its conclusion about the demonstration. Compton’s arguments against the demonstration were in a dissent that he disguised as a cover memo to Stimson’s copy of the Franck report. Compton, 238-41; Sherwin (1987), 213.

88. Childs (1968), 363.

89. Robert Wilson recalled Oppie’s objections to the demonstration during a discussion of the subject at Los Alamos in 1944. When Oppenheimer objected that the scheme could backfire if the bomb proved to be a dud, Wilson shocked Oppie by suggesting, facetiously, that they could always kill the envoys. Robert Wilson interview (1983). Robert Serber claimed that Oppenheimer took the demonstration option seriously enough to explore it with high-ranking representatives of the Army Air Force; but the latter were, Serber remembered, “adamantly opposed.” Serber interview (1984).

90. “Ernest Lawrence was the last one of our group to give us hope for finding such a solution,” Compton wrote in 1956. However, an earlier memo by Compton acknowledged that no consensus was ever reached at this meeting: “There was not sufficient agreement among the members of the panel to unite upon a statement as to how or under what conditions such use (of the bomb) was to be made.” Compton, 240; Wyden (1984), 171. The cover letter that Oppenheimer sent to Harrison and Stimson with the panel’s recommendations noted: “Because of the urgency of this matter, the Panel was not able to devote as extended a collective deliberation to the problem as it undoubtedly warrants.” Oppenheimer to Secretary of War, June 16, 1945, #76, Harrison-Bundy file, MED/NARA.

9. Oppenheimer to Secretary of War, June 16, 1945, #76, Harrison-Bundy file MED/NARA. The recommendation on the immediate use of the bomb is reprinted in Sherwin (1987), 304-5. On Sunday morning, in the movie theater which served as a church and an assembly hall, Compton and Lawrence gave a pep talk to the assembled scientists that went badly awry, Robert Wilson recalled. Compton, the son of a Presbyterian minister, added religious overtones to his lecture, while Lawrence counted on his usual boyish enthusiasm to rally the troops. “It was a disaster,” Wilson remembered. “They were both sort of telling us to work harder. We couldn’t work any harder.” Wilson interview (1996).

92. Scientists at Los Alamos later remarked upon Ernest’s “obvious distress that weekend though they did not know the cause.” Wyden (1984), 170. “Our hearts were heavy as on June 16 we turned in this report to the Interim Committee,” wrote Compton in his memoirs. Compton, 240. Harrison’s summary of the Chicago scientists’ views was sent to Stimson on June 26, 1945, ten days after the Scientific Panel’s report. It made no mention of a demonstration. A few days earlier, at the Interim Committee’s final meeting, Harrison had spoken up to note that the Scientific Panel disagreed with the recommendation on the bomb contained in the Franck report. “Memorandum for the Secretary of War,” June 26, 1945, #77, Harrison-Bundy file, MED/NARA.

93. In an earlier letter to Maria Mayer, Teller noted that he had asked Harold Urey “to talk with the Boy-scout about postwar plans.” It is unclear whether the “Boy-scout” in this case was Lawrence or Groves. Teller to Mayer, n.d., box 3, Mayer papers.

94. Szilard’s petition urged that the bomb not be dropped until the surrender terms had been made public in detail and the Japanese, knowing those terms, had still refused to surrender. Lanouette (1992), 269-75.

95. Oppenheimer’s report to Stimson on the views of the Scientific Panel noted: “With regard to these general aspects of the use of atomic energy, it is clear that we, as scientific men, have no proprietary rights. It is true that we are among the few citizens who have had occasion to give thoughtful consideration to these problems during the past few years. We have, however, no claim to special competence in solving the political, social, and military problems which are presented by the advent of atomic bomb.” The report is reprinted in Sherwin (1987), 304-5.

96. In a 1993 interview, Teller claimed that Oppenheimer had argued that scientists should not take sides for or against the use of the bomb. When he later discovered that the Scientific Panel had done just that, Teller said he felt betrayed. Teller also claimed that he did not mention Oppenheimer’s opposition to the petition in his letter to Szilard since he knew that Oppie would see the letter before it was sent. Teller to Oppenheimer, and Teller to Szilard, July 2, 1945, LANL; Edward Teller, Feb. 26, 1999, personal communication. Teller’s letter to Szilard is reprinted in Blumberg and Owens, 156-57.

97. Tolman to Lansdale, June 19, 1944, file 400.112, series 5, MED/NARA.

98. May 5 and May 8, 1945, Groves diary, Groves/NARA. A recent letter from Teller to Mayer showed that the tension with Oppie continued: “Oppy was here. It is wonderful how he can anticipate what I am going to think and how he can get around me by agreeing with me in advance.” Teller to Mayer, n.d., box 3, Mayer papers.

99. Herbert York interview (1997).

100. Rhodes (1986), 601.

01. Lyall Johnson interview (1996).

02. In a meeting on June 27, Oppenheimer told Groves that the probable date for the test was July 18 and that Fat Man’s plutonium core weighed 6.2 kilograms. “Notes Taken at Meeting at Y,” June 27, 1945, file 20, MED/NARA. My thanks to Will Mahoney for locating a recently-declassified copy of this document in the archives.

03. Another two words--“or without”–-were placed before “the Continental United States” in the description of where the work of the contract would take place. Underhill interview, n.d., Underhill papers, LANL.

04. Oppenheimer to Lawrence, July 5, 1945, folder 15, carton 29, EOL.

05. Groves (1962), 290; July 13, 1945, Cooksey diary, EOL.

06. Unmarked folder, carton 48, EOL. The talk at dinner was mostly about Lawrence’s plans for the postwar Rad Lab. Fidler interview (1992).

07. In the short term, Lawrence’s postwar focus was upon making further improvement to the electromagnetic separation process. Long-term plans looked forward to development of two new types of accelerators by McMillan and Alvarez, and what Lawrence called “a radically new” type of Calutron, which he had christened the “Cyclone.” Lawrence also requested an annual postwar budget of a million dollars–-more than 30 times what the Rad Lab had received from private sources before the war. Lawrence to Groves, July 13, 1945, folder 38, carton 29, EOL.

08. July 11, 1945, Groves diary, Groves/NARA.

09. Edward Teller with Allen Brown, The Legacy of Hiroshima (Doubleday, 1962), 16-17.

10. “A hundred-to-one it’s not needed, but what do we know?,” observed Teller, according to Joe Kennedy, who was also standing nearby. Seaborg (1992), IV, 4.

11. Author interview with Willie Highinbotham, June 9, 1993, Los Alamos, NM.

12. “O.E. (sic) Lawrence’s thoughts,” July 16, 1945, file 4, series 1, part 1, MED/NARA. Eyewitness accounts by McMillan, Serber, Alvarez and others are in the Trinity file, Tolman papers, OSRD/NARA.

13. Serber (1998), 91-93. The intensity of the light was so unexpectedly great that the following day some Los Alamos scientists suggested using it a weapon. They proposed having a companion plane accompany the B-29 that carried Little Boy. This plane would first drop a dummy bomb–-containing “super powerful sirens, unusual lights, etc.”–-which would cause those on the ground to look up just as the real bomb exploded: “It is our feeling that nobody within a radius of five miles could look directly at the gadget and retain his eyesight.” Bradbury et. al. to Parsons, “Proposal for a Modified Tactical Use of the Gadget,” box 29-9, LANL.

14. Alvarez (1987), 141-42.

15. Frank Oppenheimer interview (1983). Princeton physicist and Los Alamos colleague John von Neumann dismissed Oppenheimer’s subsequent and more famous observation on Trinity–-“Now I have become death, the destroyer of worlds,” from the Bhagavad-Gita–-as posing. “Some people profess guilt to claim credit for the sin,” von Neumann sneered.



16. Vannevar Bush interview, Reel 7, 422, MIT.


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