It’s been 70 years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world’s first and so far only uses of atomic weapons during war. The A-bomb was the brainchild of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist whose postwar advocacy for a nuclear weapons ban brought him into conflict with the same military and government on whose behalf he had created the ultimate weapon. Bob speaks with Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, authors of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.
From 1942 until 1949, Oak Ridge, Tennessee did not exist on any map. It was a secret city, built and operated by the United States Army as one of the sites of the Manhattan Project. And although at its peak 75,000 people lived there, most had no idea what they were working on until the day the bomb was dropped. There are still plenty of Manhattan Project alumni living in Oak Ridge, and Bob spoke with several of them a few years ago for our original documentary titled Secret City. Colleen Black started working as a leak detector when she was just 18-years-old; Bill Wilcox became the city’s historian after working as a chemist during the war; and Richard Lord arrived 10 days after graduating with an electrical engineering degree. Sadly, both Wilcox and Black have passed away since our visit.