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Interview with David Browning Thomson, April 12, 2005

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Narrator affiliation: Physicist, Los Alamos National Laboratory
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Thomson, David B. (David Browning). Interview, 2005 April 12. MS-00818. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Nevada Test Site Oral History Project University of Nevada, Las Vegas Interview with David B. Thomson April 12, 2005 Los Alamos, New Mexico Interview Conducted By Mary Palevsky © 2007 by UNLV Libraries Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews conducted by an interviewer/ researcher with an interviewee/ narrator who possesses firsthand knowledge of historically significant events. The goal is to create an archive which adds relevant material to the existing historical record. Oral history recordings and transcripts are primary source material and do not represent the final, verified, or complete narrative of the events under discussion. Rather, oral history is a spoken remembrance or dialogue, reflecting the interviewee’s memories, points of view and personal opinions about events in response to the interviewer’s specific questions. Oral history interviews document each interviewee’s personal engagement with the history in question. They are unique records, reflecting the particular meaning the interviewee draws from her/ his individual life experience. Produced by: The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project Departments of History and Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 89154- 5020 Director and Editor Mary Palevsky Principal Investigators Robert Futrell, Dept. of Sociology Andrew Kirk, Dept. of History The material in the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project archive is based upon work supported by the U. S. Dept. of Energy under award number DEFG52- 03NV99203 and the U. S. Dept. of Education under award number P116Z040093. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these recordings and transcripts are those of project participants— oral history interviewees and/ or oral history interviewers— and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U. S. Department of Energy or the U. S. Department of Education. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with David B. Thomson April 12, 2005 Conducted by Mary Palevsky Table of Contents Introduction: born Irving, KS ( 1927), education ( Irving HS, 1945; University of Kansas, M. S., physics, 1951), hired by LANL to work in W- 5, Weapons Division ( 1951), early work at NTS 1 Impression of atmospheric shots ( Operation Buster, 1951) 4 Thoughts on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ( 1945), use of nuclear power, the Cold War, and nuclear weapons work 6 Los Alamos work on tests at the NTS ( Hamlet [ Harry], 1953) 10 Conversion of work weapons group work to magnetic fusion program ( 1954) 11 Return to discussion of education: Ph. D. at University of Kansas 12 Discusses work of physicist Louis Rosen 13 Life at the NTS ( 1952- 1953), soldiers at Camp Desert Rock 15 Work with civil defense personnel on Annie ( NTS, 1953) 16 Involvement with United World Federalists and Association of Los Alamos Scientists 22 Arms control: the Baruch Plan, Open Skies Treaty, creation of IAEA 23 Work on Scylla experiments at Los Alamos 24 Problems with fallout in testing: Hamlet/ Harry ( 1953), Health Division, and tracking of radiation in offsite communities, physics experiments and underground nuclear testing 25 Formation of Federation of American Scientists [ FAS] chapter at Los Alamos ( 1954- 1955) to study test bans, detection and verification, fallout 29 Richard F. Taschek and the Vela Uniform program for test detection 30 Political role of scientists: FAS, Norris Bradbury, and Edward Teller re: treaties and role of weapons testing 31 Changing role of FAS and other citizen science organizations on arms control issues, and response of Nixon, Carter, and Reagan administrations ( SALT, SDI, INF, START) 35 Conclusion: views on Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Stockpile Stewardship program 39 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with David B. Thomson April 12, 2005 in Los Alamos, NM Conducted by Mary Palevsky [ 00: 00: 00] Begin Track 2, Disc 1. Mary Palevsky: So, David Thomson, thank you for meeting with me this morning. Perhaps you could start by giving me a little bit of your background: your full name, place of birth, date of birth, education, and how you ended up at Los Alamos when you did. David Thomson: I’m David B. Thomson. I was born in a small town in northeast Kansas, Irving, Kansas in Marshall County, born on October 5, 1927. Born and raised in Irving, and I graduated Irving High School in a class of six seniors in 1945. Our class graduated just at the end of World War II. I had followed World War II closely as a high school student and junior high student and one who was interested in the current events and politics of the time, of the day. And I went to the University of Kansas, enrolling in the fall of 1945, right after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And they ended World War II, as you all know. I had expected to go into the armed forces, but because of the end of the war, and my flat feet, why, the Army didn’t want me after all, and so I went to school right away. I enrolled first in electrical engineering and switched to engineering physics. I had always been interested in electronics and the old pictures of the electron and the atoms, but I didn’t know anything about nuclear physics. Our high school teachers did a good job on mathematics and English, but they didn’t know anything about nuclear physics either, so I learned that all later on. I graduated in engineering physics from the University of Kansas in 1949. I stayed on for two more years in graduate school and got a master’s in physics at the KU physics department. One of my advisors on the campus of the university, at the KU physics department, was Worth Seagondollar [ Dr. L. Worth Seagondollar], who was building the Van de Graaf [ Accelerator] at Kansas after the war, but he had been at Los UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 Alamos during the war and worked on the Van de Graafs at Los Alamos. So that’s how I knew about Los Alamos and knew to apply to come out here. I applied in the spring of ‘ 51. I had an interview in June, late June of 1951, and was hired subject to completion of my master’s thesis, which I completed during the summer, and drove to Los Alamos to work full time in September of 1951. And who hired you and what was the—? I was hired by a group leader named Vernal Josephson in Group W- 5, Weapons Division. And there was a new group that had been established during the summer of ‘ 51 to test a particular design for a particular approach to designing nuclear weapons to get more bang for the buck, so to speak, to get more efficiency out of the use of the plutonium and uranium involved. This is one of those early stories, that within a month when I got— I didn’t know I was going to work on nuclear weapons tests when they hired me. I just knew I was going to work in the weapons program doing electronics, which is what my training was up to that point, or my principal training in engineering physics. And they sent several of us out to the [ Nevada] test site to observe a shot so that we would be familiar with the operation of the test site, which was new and just then getting set up in Nevada. I think that shot was— I don’t know the exact date, but I thought it was within a month of when I came to work, so it had to be late October. Of ‘ 51? Of ‘ 51. Three of us went out, and at the suggestion of one of our group members, Hugh Karr [ 00: 05: 00], we volunteered to go in on recovery after the shot, to pick up samples. What the J Division did in those days to measure neutron fluxes from each nuclear test, to diagnose the test, they put small samples of gold on the steel rods and poked them in the ground at 100, 200, 400 yards, at intervals out from ground zero, so that you would get an idea of the neutron flux as a UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 3 function of distance from ground zero. And they’d pick these up within a couple of hours there was the lifetime decay of activated gold, activated by the neutrons, and they’d observe that decay in counters after the shot, the decay lifetimes must’ve been of the order of several hours’ half- lives. And so I went in with— a security guard drove the Jeep and I picked up the samples, and we picked them up. The shot we observed from a control point, the CP, which was about ten miles. Let’s see, the CP in those days was about ten to twelve miles away from the Area 3 ground zero area, but this particular shot was fired in Area 7 because it was an air drop. In fact, we went out to see the site the day before the shot because— I forget who the— a fellow named Byington, I believe was his name, was running the bunker— they had a bunker in Area 7 near where their air drop was to be. And if you have a map of the test site in the early days, it might help us both clarify any detail you may want to clarify. But anyway, bottom line was on shot day, the test bomb was dropped from an Air Force airplane, and I think this shot was fired about a thousand feet altitude. I’m not sure exactly. I don’t remember. And my recollection is that the announced yield to the press was 30 kilotons. So it’s probably this [ referring to document]— it’s Operation Buster from October to November of ’ 51, and they ranged from, let’s see, the one on November 5th is 31 kilotons and the one on November 1st is 21, and the one on October 30th is 14. So it’s probably one of those. [ Per DOE/ NV— 209, United States Nuclear Tests: July 1945- Sept. 1992, four shots were airdrops in Area 7; Dog= 21 kt and Easy= 31 kt]. Yes. Well, all I was going to say is I got introduced to the atomic weapon business rather dramatically, and I’m green behind the ears, fresh off the campus with only a master’s degree and four weeks at Los Alamos, or six weeks, maybe. It was between four and six weeks. I’ve forgotten the exact dates now. And we picked these samples up and we read the meter and we UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 4 looked at a map with RADSAFE [ Radiological Safety] at CP before we went in on recovery about two hours after the shot. I should back up a minute and tell you the impression of the shot itself because, though I saw many more later on, that was why we were doing this, to get familiar before we were involved with our own program. And we watched it through the dark glasses. They had the usual countdown and I think Gaelen Felt was the guy who gave the countdowns in those days. He certainly was later on, for the next couple of years, but I think— Say that name again. Gaelen—? Gaelen Felt. You’ll run into his name someplace in your history. I think he worked in the J- [ 00: 10: 00] Division office or one of the groups. I don’t remember which one. J- Division was the test group that was responsible for conducting the tests. Al [ Alvin] Graves was the test director and division leader. I worked for W- 5, which was in the Weapons Division in the lab. Let’s see, I was discussing the shot itself. Well, you see the ball of fire through your dark glasses, and you kind of feel a radiation, the heat radiation, you can feel it on your face a little bit from that distance. What were we, ten, twelve miles from the shot, maybe fourteen miles— maybe this particular shot, we were fourteen miles, I’m not sure. I’ve forgotten the distances. And you wait, and then you take your glasses off after the flash. The ball of fire looks just like the pictures on— well, you saw the picture on the book. [ Reference to Thomson’s book, A Guide to the Nuclear Arms Control Treaties, Los Alamos Historical Society, 2001]. Yes. The initial ball of fire is— this is a later shot now, but it was the same yield as the one that we were looking at. But this is a later shot. I’ll tell you about it in a minute. But that’s what it looks like a few seconds after the very initial flash, but the very initial flash is the radiation, the light UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 5 that you see from the— and the light from the soft X- rays that are emitted from the bomb. In other words, the bomb puts most of its energy out in soft X- rays, and if it’s in the atmosphere, those soft X- rays immediately fluoresce the atmosphere, and that’s what makes the ball of fire that you see. And then as it begins to cool and condense, then it begins to look like this; the initial flash is so quick, it’s hard to get a good picture of it, but the people at the lab who diagnose these things could take rapid motion pictures and see the real maximum ball of fire. That’s the brightness that you see shortly thereafter that is beginning to form the mushroom cloud, the famous mushroom cloud. Well, then, anyway, you see the flash, and all the energy is emitted instantly, essentially, but then there’s a resulting shock wave, and that comes across the desert and you can almost see it from the control point. You can see the shock wave rolling across the desert at the speed of sound, approximately. And then a minute or whatever, I’ve forgotten the exact time, but approximately a minute after the flash, why, you hear this huge bang. You can feel that as the shock wave goes by you, and it sort of— I always likened it to these fourth of July aerial bombs that they shoot up in the air off of a stand. It’s a very sharp crack. Now, many rebroadcasts of atomic bombs going off, I’ve heard, sound like there’s a lot of roar after that, and that’s just reverberations. But when the first shock wave comes by from the bomb, it’s a very sharp crack, and that’s the loud sound that you hear when you’re listening. At least, that was my understanding and impression of having watched a dozen of these things over a period of two or three years. Well, we went in— Can I ask you a question before you go on, about that? Yes. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 6 You said you were a high school student when Hiroshima and Nagasaki came. I had just graduated. Just graduated, and then— well, that’s right, because that was June, and then August. And then you’re in Nevada, what, approximately six years later, seeing this. Yes. What did you think, as a young person, seeing this for the first time? [ 00: 15: 00] Well, see, I went on campus in September, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were fired, and there are various aspects of all of this. If you want the political aspects, then I can go into it in detail. The political aspects were the two bombs on Japan, horrible as they were, ended the war. And we knew it; I knew it at the time. That’s what I’m asking, what your thoughts were at the time. I knew it at the time, from reading the newspapers and reading the news magazines and CBS news on the radio, all of which— I avidly followed the war— that the invasion of Japan was going to be a very difficult and costly thing. Because various islands like that they tried to capture, they captured before, on their way to get closer to Japan had been costly exercises, costly in American lives. And the estimates were several hundred thousand more American troops would die if we had to invade Japan, and maybe millions of Japanese might’ve died if that invasion had occurred. And so politically, it seemed to me, hey, I’m glad we got that thing. Now, physics- wise, I didn’t know the physics of it yet, but we were educated. The press was full of it and the news magazines were full of it and I was just starting in school to major in engineering physics. In fact, I bought an advanced book my first year in college that our head of our department wrote. [ James Docking] Stranathan wrote The Particles of Atomic [ Modern] Physics, and it had an experimentalist description of the development of nuclear physics in the thirties. So UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 7 I picked up a lot of that, not all the details, of course, but a lot of the essence of it, pretty quickly. But it was in the newspapers, and it was a dual promise, and I tried to say that in the book [ A Guide to the Nuclear Arms Control Treaties]. It ended the war, but it also was a threat to the world if we had another world war fought with these weapons. It would be horrible, too horrible to contemplate. But nuclear energy gave promise to solving a lot of problems in terms of energy supply. Now, even though we had gas rationing during the war, we still weren’t as aware of the impending likely energy shortages that might occur later on in those days. So it was sort of an academic thing to hear a physicist say, while I was on the campus, for example, that nuclear energy gives a lot of promise for nuclear reactors for power generation. But it was quite obvious, to me anyway, that it was a potential solution to a lot of problems, so I felt that nuclear energy should be developed, but I also felt, as a student of World War II— and I’d watched, as a very young person, watched World War II develop as Hitler took various nations one at a time. I was a very strong supporter at the end of the war of the creation of the United Nations. And I even attended, as a high school student, right after graduation, a church conference while the UN conference was in process at San Francisco in June of ’ 45. We studied the impending United Nations charter, and a small group of us said, well, we’re all for that, but it won’t work if they [ 00: 20: 00] have the veto in it. Well, we were a bunch of young students, high school graduates, if you will, and we weren’t experienced enough historically to tell you what you had to do in place of the veto. But we sent a telegram— I was an activist as early as that period of time— and sent a telegram from our little study group in this little Emporia, Kansas summer camp— it was a one- week youth camp, church camp—. Right. Which church? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 8 Presbyterian. We sent a telegram to the U. S. delegation saying, Don’t put the veto in this charter [ laughter]. And of course, it would’ve taken a lot— political scientists have failed for the last sixty years to come up with a new version of the United Nations that would solve the problem of proper representation and being able to accomplish things, and a proper executive. But I was a world federalist at an early stage. And when I came to Los Alamos, why, there was a chapter of United World Federalists [ UWF] here, and of course the world federalists didn’t have all the answers either. But they knew what had to be done, and it’s never quite been done, but I���m not a big idealist. I’ve been involved in politics enough to know how difficult it is to accomplish even simple things like the charter for Los Alamos, let alone the proper organization of the international community. But nevertheless, it’s a goal. This is jumping ahead here��� That’s all right. But these arms control treaties are showing some of the things you have to solve and some of the political mechanisms you have to evolve if you’re going to make the world a safer place. Well, I don’t know, you wanted to get back— That’s great that you added that, because that gives me this personal perspective, but my only question was; as a young person who’s lived through the end of World War II, when you see that event that few of us have seen, of this atomic bomb for the first time, what it was like? That was all I was trying to get [ understand], from a personal perspective, or are you just thinking about the science or what? What’s it like? Well, I came to work in 1951. The war in Korea was on. NATO [ North Atlantic Treaty Organization] had— the Russians had developed their first— they had fired their first fission weapon a couple of years earlier. The battle in Washington over building the hydrogen bomb had already occurred, and Truman had made the decision, which I felt then and still feel was the UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 9 correct one, to go ahead with the H- bomb development at Los Alamos. And when I came out here, participating in these tests in Nevada, to me, I looked at them as physics tests. And I recognized and, as I’ve already indicated, was an activist in the effort for some effective world international organization, if you will, that could keep us from ever fighting again. But we were facing the Russians, the Communists, the Stalinists— and when I saw that first shot, Americans were dying in Korea as we spoke— were also threatening— NATO was just getting started as a response to the Russian threat. And so I felt we had to ( a) stay ahead of the Communists in the development of nuclear weapons, and ( b) do whatever was necessary to be strong enough to prevent what had happened during World War II, which was Hitler taking all of [ 00: 25: 00] Europe and almost the whole world before the U. S. responded and was able to push back and win; win both in Europe and in Japan. So there was never any philosophical problem, to me, the U. S. action and the government, and to work for the laboratory and work with nuclear weapons was a very reasonable thing for me to do. And I soon learned— as I learned how the laboratory operated and learned how important nuclear physics was and how much nuclear physics got done here, particularly in the fifties— the laboratory was one of the centers of nuclear physics and on the threshold, on the frontiers of science, and I felt that they were doing it the right way. I don’t know. Back to the bomb itself, we were picking up these samples and we got into ground zero and the meter read 25 R per hour. We knew we weren’t supposed to have more than 3 R per operation, and so we didn’t want to stay around there looking for that last sample, which we didn’t quite find, and we got out of there. But we got all the key ones that we needed. It was a dramatic way to be introduced to the weapons program. But I’ve always been proud of that particular operation. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 10 We came back home and worked on our project, and we fired four shots on towers, one after the other, two in the spring of ‘ 52 and then two more in the spring of ‘ 53, and it was a series of shots with certain parameters being varied for each shot, which are all classified, of course, as to what the parameters were. And we developed that particular approach to the future design of weapons and made that contribution. And then— These were all Nevada shots? Yes. So you’re working on a particular problem that’s tested out in that period of time. Yes. Right. By our group, Group W- 5 under Vern’s leadership. I can give names of other people. John Wieneke was the deputy group leader. I don’t know if you want that kind of information, but I can give it to you if you— We don’t have to go through it. It’s Vern Josephson, you say? The group leader. And John Wieneke. They left the lab in the middle fifties and went to laboratories in California, but I’ve kept up with both of them with Christmas cards through the years, but they’ve both died within the last five years. So did I understand correctly that W- 5 was created to solve a particular—? A particular set of nuclear tests, yes, to develop a— we’d have to go behind the fence to describe what it was. And within three years after I had hired, we finished our test series, and this one here is the last one. It was called Hamlet and it was because the— Oh, so that’s Hamlet, you say? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 11 Yes, that was Hamlet and it was May 19 in 1953. And we came home from Nevada after that shot. We were out in Nevada only about two to three months each of those two springs, ‘ 52 and ’ 53. Oh, see, they call it Harry in here [ DOE/ NV— 209]. Yes, but Hamlet was what we called it in W- Division. Harry is the shot number. They called it Hamlet in the jargon; an obvious name because they hadn’t decided whether to shoot it or not. It was an add- on to the first three, and it turned out it was maybe the best one, but anyway, it was [ 00: 30: 00] to be or not to be. We fired that, and that was the last shot I saw. Oh, it is the last shot you saw. And that was—? Yeah, because we came home and did some other laboratory work and did some neutron physics and within a couple of years, the whole group moved into the magnetic fusion program, which was then called [ Project] Sherwood. It was under Jim Tuck. But it was a direct conversion of a bunch of weaponeers, physicists going into what has turned out to be a long- time study, a long- time effort, to bring fusion energy to the world to solve the energy problem. And fusion energy would be better than fission energy because you don’t have nearly as much nuclear waste. And it’s an inexhaustible supply because you get deuterium out of the ocean and so on. And so the lab had started a program in magnetic fusion in 1952 under Jim Tuck and Jim Phillips and a number of other people who I could name. But our group, our weapons group, joined them in 1954. Just let me understand that a little better. So you figured out, with the last shot, you figured out what you needed to figure out, basically? For weapons. For weapons. And so they say, what are we going to do with these guys [ physicists], or—? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 12 Well, the group leader knew what they might do with us, and we might end up doing a lot of engineering work, which would be important, but he wanted to do something new and exciting because he had a bunch of physicists, half- a- dozen physicists, who had ideas, and so he said, Well, let’s go into fusion. And so we did. And we could’ve continued in the weapons work, and I know many of our compatriots were in other groups that continued and we kept in touch with them, of course, but— well, I’ll let you ask the questions. I’m not quite sure where to— in terms of my own career, why, I said I came with a master’s degree— Right, let’s talk about that. And I had an important job to do in the firing of these shots, using the electronics that I knew, and had quite a bit of responsibility in terms of certain equipment. But when we got through with that, why, I could see that to really have the full option to do different kinds of work that you might be most interested in over the years, that you needed to have a Ph. D., or it at least appeared so if you were a physicist. And so I went back to school for a year, on a leave of absence from the lab. I worked out an arrangement, my group leader had sponsored me to do my Ph. D. thesis in Los Alamos, should I pass all my other courses and exams. Where did you go for your Ph. D.? Kansas. Oh, you went to Kansas. Yes, I went back to Kansas and did another year of coursework, and then came back to work here; we were working in the fusion program. But I had to go back to take the prelims and the language exams, the German exam. You know, I went back for one exam at a time. I’d study for it, nights, out here and then go back to KU and take the exam. Took me several years to get ready to pass everything, all the prelims, so that I could do my thesis. And the division leader UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 13 then decided that I should do the thesis on the Van de Graaf rather than in the fusion program. Fusion was too new and he didn’t think it was— there was some political turbulence in the— and other turbulence, and the plasmas had a lot of turbulence in them, if I can crack a joke. Between the two, why, they thought that it’d be better to do the thesis [ 00: 35: 00] somewhere else in the division. I picked the big Van de Graaf, the time of flight program that was under— my thesis advisor was Dr. Larry Cranberg, and they had the latest equipment in neutron spectroscopy by time of flight at that point. I was very pleased. It took several years to do it, but I was very pleased with the thesis. [ Larry Cranberg was the leader of neutron time- of- flight work at Los Alamos and was very helpful to my career.] Explain to me what “ time of flight” is. Well, you measure the energy of a neutron or any particle by just how fast it’s going and how long it takes it to go from one point to another point. And so that’s what that was. Yes, and they still use— well, Louis Rosen had done some early— I may be jumping ahead because I don’t know if you’ve done all you want to with the weapons work or the bomb testing or— I’ll ask you a question, but go ahead. But Louis Rosen, who later started LAMPF [ Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility] and became— My dad [ Harry Palevsky] was a colleague of Louis Rosen’s and worked on LAMPF. Well, in the early fifties, he did neutron spectroscopy with emulsions, and they used to have what they called Rosen’s Harem, a group of ladies who were trained to read track lengths in emulsions, and that gave you the energy of the neutron that hit them. Louis studied nuclear temperatures in 1953. And of course, he did a lot of work at the test site also, getting the neutron UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 14 spectroscopy off the bomb tests. But back home, doing pure physics, why— every physicist wanted to do pure physics at the lab. The weapons work was an application of our trade, but what we’d rather do— which we knew we needed to do for the country, to develop the best weapons possible and to stay ahead of the Soviets— but it was based on the science of nuclear physics and we wanted to learn all we could about it. Louis studied nuclear temperatures from a scattering of high energy neutron off of high Z elements; a high Z element being a heavy element like lead or the highest Z would be uranium and plutonium, of course. But we stayed away from the uranium and plutonium in this pure physics stuff that you wanted to publish, for the most part. In those days because you could do that for the weapons people and get them cross- sections for weapons work, but for the publishable stuff, we dealt with non- classified elements. And anyway, Louis did this nice job of looking at nuclear temperatures, which gives you a measure of the distribution of energy levels, of excited energy levels in high Z elements. And so then I did it with Larry Cranberg on the Van de Graaf, and we could do it with much more resolution and intensity- to- resolution ratios, and more rapidly, on the Van de Graaf with the time- of- flight method five years later. But I always give Louis credit for inspiring us to go into the nuclear temperature business. And, well then, twenty years later, after he’d built LAMPF, Louis Rosen and his people out at LAMPF, they made another factor- of- a- thousand improvement in intensity- to- resolution ratio for neutron spectroscopy with the equipment out at LAMPF, and it’s just the nature and the way it operated. So it’s a regime of activity that has continued in nuclear physics, that has continued through at the laboratory and elsewhere. But I think the lab has been second to none in [ 00: 40: 00] understanding neutrons from the very beginning. And there were lots of other kinds of neutron experiments that different people did, and even that I did a little of before I went into UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 15 the fusion program. So my career oscillated between weapons testing in the early days and then the fusion work, which involves plasma physics; it’s a different regime than the nuclear. I did my thesis in nuclear physics and then went back into high energy fusion studies later in my career. Now I’ll let you ask— Well, the only question that I had at this point about Nevada was you’re basically there working for, what, a couple of years, I guess? Well, I was in the program for three years, and we spent two months in the spring of ‘ 52 and two more months in the spring of ‘ 53, and those weren’t solid months; they were broken into two pieces, in my case. That was what I was going to ask you about. So you would drive, you would fly, you would— what would it be? Just sort of real mundane stuff. What was it like to get back and forth? Oh, we’d fly out to [ Las] Vegas and stay at Camp Mercury. Oh, you would? We lived at Camp Mercury, yes. Would the scientists basically stay as a group together where they don’t talk to other people about—? Yes, they had bunks. It was a bunk situation. It was a lot nicer quarters than they had down at Desert Rock where the soldiers were. And I went down there— I had a high school friend— one of those six I men