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Interview with Herbert Frank York, January 16, 2004


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Narrator affiliation: Physicist, First director, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory; Arms control negotiator; Director, Defense Dept. Research adn Engineering

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York, Herbert F. (Herbert Frank). Interview, 2004 January 16. 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 Herbert F. York January 16, 2004 La Jolla, California 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 Herbert F. York January 16, 2004 Conducted by Mary Palevsky Table of Contents Introduction: Dr. York discusses involvement with the Manhattan Project and his graduate studies with Ernest O. Lawrence at the University of California at Berkeley. 1 Dr. York compares the personalities and political views of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Ernest Lawrence. 4 In 1943, Lawrence sent Dr. York was part of large team to work at the uranium separation facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Manhattan Project Site Y- 12, which created highly enriched uranium. 5 Explanation of uranium separation process. Recollections of June 1945 when the word came down to stop production and he knew “ the end was coming.” What he knew about the significance of his work at the time. 7 Discussion of secrecy on the Manhattan Project what he and other young scientists knew and discussed about the project’s work and achievements, code words used. 8 Local rumors about the work being done at Oak Ridge 14 The working environment at Oak Ridge was shaped by segregation and the presence of women workers, his sensitivity to race issues due to Mohawk ancestry. 15 Dr. York reflects on his family heritage and race issues in the U. S. 16 Discussion of women workers at Oak Ridge. 20 After World War II, Dr. York returned to Berkeley to complete his Ph. D. 22 After the first Soviet atomic test in 1949 E. O. Lawrence sent him and Hugh Bradner to Los Alamos, involvement with Operation Greenhouse diagnostic experiments, witnessed Ranger test ( NTS) from top of Berkeley hills. ( 1951), 24 Dr. York discusses his reactions to viewing Greenhouse atmospheric test, his view of nuclear tests as “ spectacle” and that policymakers must understand the weapons’ destructive power by studying photographs of Hiroshima. 28 First discussions with Ernest Lawrence about creating a second nuclear weapons laboratory 30 Ernest Lawrence and Edward Teller debate the merits of creating a second weapons laboratory and York’s preliminary activities in that regard. 32 Dr. York describes setting up Livermore lab in 1952. 34 Norris Bradbury’s early complaints about Livermore activities and Teller’s and Lawrence’s reasons for wanting a second weapons laboratory. 35 Dr. York worked with Duane Sewell on Livermore organization and logistics, his views of Teller at the time and later. 37 Dr. York’s policy of working on extremes at Livermore. 39 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 Discussion of competition between Livermore and Los Alamos laboratories and nature of some differences in weapons development. 41 Dr. York discusses work at the Nevada Test Site, relationship among the labs, AEC, University of California and contractors. 42 The scientists early concerns about radioactive fallout from atmospheric tests at the NTS 43 Dr. York explains the tasks involved with designing and managing a nuclear test, Gerald Johnson ( Livermore) and Jack Clark ( Los Alamos). 45 All nuclear testing was subject to President Eisenhower’s approval, role military and governmental decision- makers. Dr. York explains this process and describes how the laboratories generally avoided Cold War political issues and focused instead on applied science. 46 Dr. York discusses first Livermore tests at the NTS, Ruth and Ray ( 1953). 50 Discussion of first Livermore test in the Pacific, Koon ( 1954). 52 General discussion of various Pacific tests and experiences while there. 55 Nevada tests, Bill Ogle and the “ Pogo staff.” 58 Dr. York disagrees with the notion that the Nevada Test Site was a “ battleground” of the Cold War” rather than an extension of key work carried out at the national laboratories. 60 Discuss fallout from Bravo test and trip with Lawrence to investigate impacts on Wotho Atoll, Marshall Islands. 61 Discussion of the origins of the Plowshare program for peaceful applications of nuclear energy. 63 Dr. York recalls naming the Rover program ( later the Nuclear Rocket Development Program) and discusses the Soviet version of Plowshare. 65 Dr. York discusses exchanges between of Soviet and American scientists including the Joint Verification Experiments and his own interactions with Soviet scientists. 69 Visits to Eisenhower in Palm Springs and views on the military- industrial complex 72 1980 visits with Soviet physicist Peter Kapitza in Geneva and views about the coming end of the Cold War. 74 Security concerns, debates about the nuclear test ban, role as Carter’s chief negotiator in Geneva. 77 The shock of the first Soviet atomic bomb and of Sputnik. 81 The U2 incident and Eisenhower and Khrushchev at Camp David. 82 Dr. York describes experiences in the defense department 85 Dr. York discusses the postdoctoral fellowship established in his name at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 89 Dr. York shares memories of visiting the Las Vegas Strip while he was working at the Nevada Test Site. 93 Dr. York discusses the early mathematical careers of John von Neumann and Theodore von Kármán, as well as the development of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 95 Conclusion: the interview concludes with more personal memories of the Las Vegas Strip and the Nevada Test Site. 99 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Herbert F. York January 16, 2004 in La Jolla, CA Conducted by Mary Palevsky [ 00: 00: 00] Begin Track 2, Disk 1. Mary Palevsky: You and I have spoken a lot about the Manhattan Project over the years. Herbert York: Yes. I realized, as I was preparing for this interview, that we’ve never really talked that much about Ernest Lawrence. And when I was thinking and reading in Race to Oblivion [ A Participant’s View of the Arms Race, by Herbert F. York, Simon and Schuster, 1970] and remembering how Lawrence was your teacher, you refer to yourself in Race to Oblivion as his last student, and how he was so instrumental in many things in your early career. Yes. I wondered if you would be interested in talking a little bit about Lawrence, when you met him and just what your remembrances of him are sort of chronologically. It’s important to note that I was twenty years younger and I had this student relation with him, almost a father- son relation. I was a favorite of his, not to be too shy about it, and what he liked about me was my simple side. I came from a simple family and so forth, with no pretensions either bred in or developed, and he liked that sort of thing. But he himself was fairly pompous and was very bossy and it turned off a lot of people. It made for some difficult relations with him and others, but I didn’t mind. He would do things like tell me that, You’re as good as anybody. I was mentioning Russian scientists and, You’re as good as anybody in Russia, he says, but don’t let that go to your head. Or if I would ask for something which he thought I shouldn’t have, he would say, You know, Herb, if you talk like that, people UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 will think you’re a spoiled brat, so it was that kind of relationship. But of course, the positive part of it was that I worked a lot at night because I could get the big cyclotron at night and the faculty— I was a graduate student— the faculty members preferred to work in the daytime, so I got the odd hours. But Lawrence was one of these people, rare people who just loved to visit his laboratory empire over and over and over again. And so, more or less once a week I’d be there working in the evening or maybe a Saturday or Sunday— also time available— and he would come by and ask, What are you doing? And I would talk about what I [ was] doing, the mechanics of it, how the counters were working, where the beam was and all of that, and I’d talk about the theoretical basis of the experiments that I was doing, and then he would just beam and go away and then a week later he’d come by again. So the fact I worked at night was important, and then I took the odd hours. But I’d already become quite familiar with him at Oak Ridge. But anyway the first time I met him I was looking forward to meeting him. I knew about him and I was— one of the odd characteristics of my whole life, including my youth, is that I’ve always just glommed on to the superlatives— and I knew that Lawrence had a Nobel Prize, he’d invented the cyclotron, and I was just very eager to meet him. And I came to California because they had the redwood trees and the Sierra and, you know, the longest five- foot bookshelves in the world and things like that— I get it. — but I was that way as a boy so I was just looking forward to meeting Lawrence and I was awed by him before I ever saw him. Well, he’s big, both tall and a little bit heavy. And I remember that we had [ a] weekly colloquium, maybe even more often than weekly, at Berkeley, in a room that had— well, it was in an unfinished room. Everything was, you know, you could see all the two- UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 3 by- fours and so on, and there were just a bunch of these folding chairs arranged in a geometrical array, blackboard and a podium in front. All of us, maybe thirty or forty people gathered, and after we were all there this big guy came in from the back— the entrance was at the back— and he was heavy, you could feel the floor bounce. And he beamed at everybody as he came in, smiled, and went up to the front, to the right, where there was an easy chair. All the rest of us in these— he sat in this big easy chair and sort of presided, but very gently; he was obviously the presiding officer but he didn’t intervene very often. And I remember wondering about the easy chair, but he felt he needed to explain it at some time later to me, and that was he had a bad back, but I mean it’s the usual thing. But that was my first meeting with him and from then on it was— I just enjoyed being there with him. I enjoyed the laboratory and I enjoyed Lawrence. [ 00: 05: 17] So this was, remind me, this was 19— This was May of 1943. So the war was on. During the war, we were engaged in separating uranium isotopes by what was called the electromagnetic process. And you were doing that there at Berkeley. We had some prototype devices, two of them. There were two of them between what became eventually the one- eighty- four- inch magnet, between the jaws of that magnet. There were two teams. One was headed by Frank Oppenheimer, Robert’s younger brother, and that’s the team I joined. And that meant a great deal to me too. Frank Oppenheimer was a wonderfully empathetic person. And the other team, as I remember, was headed by Duane Sewell, who we mentioned earlier. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 4 Yes, we’ll talk about him later a little bit. So that’s when I first met Duane. So then— you mentioned the name Oppenheimer. I just want to ask you about this because it sort of fits with something you said. When I interviewed the late Robert Wilson, also a student of Lawrence’s, he mentioned that Lawrence was much more down- to- earth and less sort of cerebral— Yes, comparing the two men, yes. — and that the students were aware of that. Was that something that was just— Wilson is noticing or was there sort of like camps? Well, you see, by the time I arrived Oppenheimer was already gone— That’s right. — so I didn’t meet the senior. I did eventually meet the senior Oppenheimer two years later, after the war was over, and I was a student and he was a professor at Berkeley. Right. And yes, they were very different that way. You know, Oppenheimer liked music and sophistication and political theories and— whereas Lawrence was very disdainful of political theories. He wasn’t too sure about physical theories either and had this— he was from a rural college. Lawrence’s father had been the president of a small church- related college in one of the Dakotas. And that showed, and I think that showed in him. He had very different politics. I didn’t see a lot of the politics of either of them but what I did see was very different. Oppenheimer’s view, you know, was a sophisticated view. Oppenheimer was proud to be. He knew he was sophisticated and proud of it. And Lawrence, on the other hand, if something— when McCarthy came along and the oath came along, Lawrence’s attitude, Well, if you have UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 5 nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about, why make such a fuss? And, OK, sign the oath if you don’t— if you don’t have anything to hide there’s no problem. So Lawrence took that kind of an attitude, whereas Oppenheimer would take a much more complicated attitude. [ 00: 08: 16] Yes. So you were with Lawrence— Starting in 1943. Starting in 1943, and then did he send you to Oak Ridge? Yes. How did that work that you got to Oak Ridge? Well, I went to Oak Ridge during the war as part of a big team, a team of, I don’t know, fifty or sixty people; yes, Lawrence sent us there. What had happened, it was an unexpected result— it hadn’t been planned originally. What had happened is that they set up these so- called racetracks, which were gangs of big magnets and electromagnetic separators, like a hundred in a group, kind of laid out in an oval called racetracks, and each one operated separately from a big console that controlled the electric power that made the machines work. And they had hired a lot of people from Appalachia, mostly women in their late teens— all the boys were off to war or dodging the draft or whatever— so they hired these squads of young women, all of them wearing blue jumpers, I remember very well— but they couldn’t get the units started. I mean, they would do what they were told to do: to turn it on. And it turns out that devices of that type— mixed high voltage and magnetic fields— they’re very much subject to breaking down and sparking, and they couldn’t get it started. So Lawrence essentially sent sixty of us young people back there to get it started. And so as soon as we arrived we went to these racetracks, these various consoles, power control consoles, and we started turning them on, with these girls watching us, and after a few weeks we had it all running. And then they took it over and then they did better than we did, but UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 6 I’m not at all surprised— so utterly strange, these girls had never seen anything like it. I mean, you know, totally novel. Well, the world hadn’t seen anything like it. But we’d grown up with it because we were in the development— making the prototypes at Berkeley. So that’s why we went. And then we stayed. I don’t know why it was we didn’t come home. Well, I think some of the older people did. But most of the young people I think were probably all men. Yes. A few had wives, but mostly just single men got this thing going. Then we stayed, and then I became involved in improving it. In particular my job had to do with trimming the beam in such a way as to improve the quality of the product, that is, the percentage of U- 235. And I determined fairly early that it was a tradeoff between quality and quantity, but I knew it only as a function of making the stuff. I didn’t know what the tradeoff was at the other end, I mean, in making bombs. In using it, yes. So I remember asking Lawrence, I said, I could do this better if you would tell me what the tradeoff is between quality and quantity; and he went back and forth to Los Alamos, monthly or weekly, very frequently, Berkeley, Los Alamos, and Oak Ridge. And so the next time he came by he had a little tiny piece of paper, like two- by- three from a pad, and on there were two columns of numbers, maybe four numbers in each column— Wow! — and they essentially were the purity in one column and the other column, the critical mass. Now whether it was the critical mass really or fudged, I really don’t remember anymore. But anyway I took those numbers, turned them into a curve, and then adjusted the way the beam was trimmed in order to— my purpose was to increase the number of critical masses slightly. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 7 [ 00: 12: 41] Right. So just in sort of layperson’s terms, you’ve got this beam going through the cyclotron— Yes, through the magnetic field. Through the magnetic field which causes you—? Well, the two different isotopes are— the magnetic field— they’re ions of uranium— which are going through the magnetic field. And the magnetic field acts on both of them, but one of them is lighter than the other so that it moves in a different way. The lighter one moves in a tighter circle, but it’s very little less. I mean the receiver that these all went into was 180 degrees away and that meant, I forget, but four feet or five feet or something. And the U- 235 arrived slightly closer to the source than the other one, but they overlapped, I mean, for a lot of reasons, like air, the residual air, and other imperfections in the magnet and so on. They overlapped, so it wasn’t pure U- 235 here and pure U- 238 there. They overlapped. And so the idea was to take out as much U- 235 as you could while— and you could get more by the closer you moved towards the U- 238, the more you drew from it. But, you know, the question is where do you— how do you do that? So the problem was to adjust the trimming mechanisms that separated the two isotopes at the far end of the machine. And do that in a way that maximized the number of critical masses. I really don’t know whether I did any good or not but my purpose was to do what would ultimately make the Hiroshima bomb more powerful, but I don’t know whether I did. That was my purpose. [ 00: 14: 48] And one of my memories from that time, special memories, is that in June of 1945, after we’d been there already about fifteen months, sixteen months, the word came down to stop everything. But to go back a little bit, the uranium was processed in batches and it took a few weeks or a month to process a batch. You put it in the machine, you’d run the machine for UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 8 about a month till the source material was exhausted. And so stopping and taking everything out at once was inefficient. But it’s clear what it meant. I still remember a little shiver. It meant that we were finished. And in some ways— I still didn’t know the details but I knew we were finished in June. June of 1945, I knew the end was coming. I think we’ve talked about this before but I don’t know if I’ve ever asked you this specific question. How much at that point [ did you know?] You knew you were making a bomb? Oh yes, I knew quite a bit. In fact, I knew more than the typical young physicist at Oak Ridge because of my contacts with Lawrence and because of this particular question of what to do, how to trim it, and because I was involved at the very end of the physical process. I was, so to speak, the last physicist to touch it before it went to Los Alamos. Now there was a chemist in between and he’d take this stuff and convert it into something which they would then ship off to Los Alamos. And then I had several friends that were sort of clued in to— heard that— we gossiped a lot. So I knew very little about Los Alamos. I didn’t know what a critical mass was, I mean how much it was. I only knew that by June 1945 we had one or maybe it was two. I didn’t know that either, in June of ‘ 45. I just knew that somehow we were ready, done. And I knew about the plutonium project. You did? Yes. That, though, I figured out— well, not all by myself. But just gossiping. One person had heard— it’s like the intelligence people say, you know, Loose lips sink ships. It works. We, this small group of us, figured out the plutonium project illicitly, just from things we heard— and were able to put it together. And then when I had somehow put it together, somehow in talking with Lawrence when it was evident that I knew nearly all of it, then he probably told me some more. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 9 So someone had heard about what— had you known—? No, we just got little bits and pieces at a time. Had you known— would you have known about the chain reaction and things like that? No, not— I did eventually. Eventually. But no, I was not privy to it at all, even though there was a reactor at Oak Ridge, I didn’t know what it was. It was the X- 10. I never knew what was there. X- 10. But the very first thing I heard that started us thinking, this small group, was that Bohr had been briefed about what we were doing at Y- 12. I didn’t— I never saw him. I don’t know if he came or not, but I— but he had been briefed and he said how surprised he was that, They’re doing it by the brute force method and I never thought that would work, I didn’t think that would work. Now, he could’ve meant a lot of things. Right. But we began [ to ask]— What does he mean? And then somebody casually or by accident or somebody over here, somebody mentions “ forty- nine.” And it becomes clear somehow in another single sentence that that’s an element. Well, there is no element forty- nine. What it— well, there is, but I mean it hadn’t anything to do with anything. I don’t even know what it is. But it meant ninety- four, element ninety- four, and it wasn’t reversed, it was the four from ninety- four and the nine from 239, which was the molecular weight of this— plutonium that made weapons- grade. So we heard that. I don’t remember what else we heard, but it just was a sentence at a time. And then, you know, us smart young bucks trying to figure out what it is. And figuring it out. Yes. Interesting. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 10 Or half figuring it out, and then getting far enough so that somebody confirmed it, somebody who knew. [ 00: 19: 47] But it was so little- known that we at Oak Ridge, at Y- 12, about six months before the end of the war, the diffusion plant, K- 25— we starting working first, then the diffusion plant started working, and it turned out that the most efficient thing to do to get the war ended was to run the diffusion plant up to about 15 percent U- 235 concentration and then take that stuff and bring it over to Y- 12 and process it through the second— OK. See, we had a two- stage process. And to bring it over and put it into our second stage. So I was involved in preparing for that. And the president of Tennessee Eastman Company, whom I’d somehow gotten to know— he knew that I was there and somehow that I knew things— he came and suggested to me, he says, You know, we should get the stuff from this plant in Washington, Hanford, and we should run that through, too. Now that doesn’t— that’s wrong, you know. I mean, I would never—. Well, but you see, he thought it was another uranium plant. So the executive head of the Y- 12 plant didn’t know about plutonium. Right. And because it was me— I forgot how I handled it, but I made it clear that wouldn’t be a good idea. And he— I didn’t say anything about why. I didn’t even hint about why. But somehow or other I was persuasive and so he dropped the subject. Of course, maybe he brought it up with Lawrence, I wouldn’t know necessarily. But he brought it up with me early on. Do you remember, or was there a time when Lawrence told you— or who told you what was happening at Oak Ridge or that whole piece of it, that you knew what you were working on, or did you piece that together too? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 11 Well, it was just the normal— at Los Alamos, everybody was clued into everything. At places like Berkeley and Columbia, and there were only a couple of other places. Right. Chicago. All the physicists were clued in with respect to the purpose of the project. The general project, and also the specific project. Right from the day I walked in, somebody told me that we are separating uranium isotopes with these electromagnetic devices. At Berkeley. Yes, at Berkeley, in order to build an atomic bomb. It was perfectly— for most of us, we knew that before we got there. Again you had to figure it out, nobody told you. But here’s Lawrence, the nuclear laboratory at Berkeley, and that’s all I knew about him. And then there’s these people at Columbia that were recruiting for the same project; and the nuclear physicist Vicki Weisskopf was at Rochester and left a few months before I did. He would go to Chicago all the time. I didn’t know he was going to Los Alamos but we— you know, it’s just obvious, and furthermore fission was discovered in the open just before the war. So we got fission, we got nuclear physics, we got cyclotrons, we got Weisskopf and Lawrence, I mean, what else? What else? Yes. Yes. It would’ve been amazing if it wasn’t an atomic bomb, so we all knew that without talking about it. And then on the secrecy side, one of the first things that was made clear is you don’t say the word “ uranium” or anything like that. And that was so strong, I mean, this prohibition about saying the word “ uranium,” we never, never did it. At Berkeley and at Oak Ridge. And at Oak Ridge. Never said it. We called it—“ R” was the mixture of U- 235 and 238 we were producing, and that was made out of “ X” and “ Y”. “ X” was U- 235, “ Y” was U- 238— and, you UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 12 know, at the laboratory in Berkeley there were some meters that measured the current and said “ aluminium,” you know. Interesting. So the point is, when at the end of the war, the day after Hiroshima the newspapers published accounts of the project and used the word “ uranium,” it made you shudder. Seeing “ uranium,” I mean that word had just been forbidden. That’s interesting. We called it— if we needed a name for the metal, we called it tube alloy. Tube alloy. A name that had been given by Churchill. Winston Churchill named it. Now you call oralloy the stuff that’s produced at Oak Ridge. But we— that wasn’t at that time. But Churchill— That’s all right, the Brits had that, right. At the very beginning of the project the question is, What are they doing? And he said, We’re developing alloys for tubes. That’s where it came from? Yes. It was— the word “ tube” was the operation - “ tube” and “ alloy.” I mean— Interesting. Well, “ tube” has a “ u” in it, I guess. And the idea somehow that it had to do with tanks, that they needed special tubing for tanks. But it was— we never, just never, said that word. I think even when we were gossiping about what might— what are they doing at Hanford? We still didn’t use any— except for “ forty- nine.” Somehow since we had heard that illicitly it didn’t bother [ us]— somehow we didn’t— and since it was a code itself, you know, forty- nine, what’s that? [ 00: 25: 35] Right. Right. Well, what’s interesting about that, maybe related to a later conversation we’ll have about secrecy, is just how that begins to work on such a simple level; UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 13 groups of people have agreements about what can and can’t be said. And just almost your, I don’t want to say emotional, but your gut reaction when the secret is finally said it’s— how powerful that is. Yes, and to be perfectly frank, I don’t remember anybody objecting. There may have been some older people who did, but I was young and naïve and I didn’t object. Yes. Interesting. But when we went to Oak Ridge, we had a fake address for our parents to write to. They wrote— before that, when I was in Berkeley, we just had ordinary correspondence, but once I went to Oak Ridge they used a fake address. Like a P. O. box, like they did at Los Alamos? Yes, but it was at Berkeley, so the letters went to Berkeley and then to Oak Ridge. And— well, it was a room number in the one where they had “ Donner Laboratory.” Like Room 600, which is in a four- story, a three- story building, and then the mail was forwarded. There was never— it was not censored. At Los Alamos it was— but not at Oak Ridge. And people could come visit. My father came and visited me twice. Really? At least maybe just once, but I think twice. Yes, he came once and I went to visit him several times. So what, he visited the town or��? Yes. It might’ve been after the war, during a tiny little interval because we sat up on a hill and we looked at the Y- 12 plant and I didn’t tell him— I didn’t violate any rules. But somehow or other— people noticed at Oak Ridge that everything’s coming in, nothing’s going out, so the question is, What are they doing there? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 14 Yes, that’s interesting. There were these wonderful rumors; They were digging a hole to China, things like that. Well, that’s so interesting though because it’s the war and people are producing things for the war and you’re not producing anything. Yes, nothing’s coming out. Well, stuff was coming out. They didn’t know it was four or five grams at a time and the guy was taking it with him in a railroad car to Los Alamos. What would it actually be put in, the uranium? Well, I have— for some reason I remember a thing that looks like an ordinary tin, a round thing this big around [ demonstrating size], metal, with a cap on it, but you know, I’m not at all sure that I have that right. The stuff that I saw, I saw it just before that, when they were processing it. That was impressive for a different reason because they had like a cake tin, a container that was rectangular like this [ demonstrating] and an inch- and- a- half or so on high, with heavy walls like a sixteenth of an inch or maybe an eighth of an inch, all platinum. Wow! Big piece of platinum. [ 00: 28: 48] And the coils— this is all well- known but maybe you’ve forgotten— the coils for the magnets were so big and so heavy and involved so much metal that they made them out of silver instead of copper because copper was in big demand for other electrical machinery and the silver was all lying there backing up the currency in West Point, wasn’t doing anything. Oh, I didn’t know that story. So that they made the coils for the Oak Ridge machines out of pure silver, and the coils were made out of straps and my memory of them is, they’re a little over an inch wide and arou