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Nobel Prize winning scientists associated with the Manhattan Project.

by on February 1, 2013


by Ms. Rania Mahmoud

Patent records (RG 326 – Records of the Atomic Energy Commission, Office of the General Counsel: Subject File Relating to Patents, 1942-1965, Entry A1 66) that have recently been declassified include signed original documents by several renowned Nobel Prize-winning scientists associated with the Manhattan Project.

These AEC records from the 1940’s and 1950’s contain a variety of documents to include daily correspondence letters signed by Lieutenant General Leslie Groves, the Director of the Manhattan Project, and Enrico Fermi’s 1953 General Release and Waiver letter.  Enrico Fermi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1938.  Other original signatures in this record series include 1939 Nobel Prize recipient Ernest Lawrence, 1951 Nobel Prize recipient Glenn Seaborg and famed nuclear physicist, Edward Teller.

Major General L. R. Groves, letter dated 27 May 1944.

Edward Teller Letter, dated 17 July 1944.

Enrico Fermi, Docket, dated 15 June 1953.


Comments

Alex Wellerstein February 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm

These are interesting; thank you for posting them!

The “project” Groves refers to in his letter is clearly the development of the Smyth Report. He sent similar letters to other project heads. Lavender, the head of the OSRD patent division, would be a natural connection there, since he kept track of invention records for the whole project.

The Fermi letter is in regard to his “slow neutron” patent, the first case in which the Atomic Energy Commission Patent Compensation Board gave out a payment. Simone Turchetti has written about this: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/4609/

Teller’s refers to his attempt to use uranium hydride as fuel for a weapon. In theory this design would use less enriched fissile material. The first two weapons tested by the Livermore laboratory that Teller lobbied for in the 1950s were hydride weapons; they didn’t work.

For people interested in the history of Manhattan Project patenting — e.g. why they were patenting in the first place, who Captain Lavender is — I humbly suggest to them to look into my articles on the subject here: http://alexwellerstein.com/atomic_patents/

John Powers February 5, 2013 at 10:05 am

Thanks for this post – Groves was also the proejct manager for building the Government’s largest building, the Pentagon.

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