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The Los Alamos Historical Society wants to thank the community for their continued interest and support of discussions of WGN’s TV series “Manhattan.” Here are some of the common questions we heard at the discussion of the fourth episode this past Sunday and on social media. Every week the society will be updating a bulletin board in the museum to continue exploring questions and reactions as the 13-episode series continues. Previous episodes are discussed on the website, losalamoshistory.org, on our Facebook page, and in the museum.
Join the Los Alamos Historical Society Sundays at Time Out Pizzeria in Los Alamos from 7-9:30 for a viewing and discussion of “Manhattan” (TV-14 rating).
Were Los Alamos doctors Army doctors?
Yes, Los Alamos was served by an Army hospital. Originally staffed by one doctor and three nurses, the hospital grew to include a radiologist, pediatrician, dentists, an internist who had to enlist in the Army to accept the invitation to join the staff, a pharmacist, lab technicians, more nurses, and an Great Dane/Russian wolfhound mutt named Timoshenko who looked after the front steps.
Where did they test explosives?
Explosives tests were carried out at sites on current LANL property, such as the Gun Site. These sites were only a few miles away from the Tech Area.
Did Niels Bohr visit?
Late in 1943, Niels Bohr, acting as a consultant for the British/Canadian bomb program, visited Los Alamos with his son Aage, a physics student. He was given the code name Nicholas Baker by Manhattan Project security (who were distressed to later find his full name stamped across his luggage), but people on the Hill called him Uncle Nick. Niels and Aage stayed for over two months, and made other visits as well. Bohr helped with scientific problems but many remember him being of greater help acting as a father figure to young scientists. On this first trip, Bohr also brought with him a drawing by Werner Heisenberg of a nuclear reactor, which was studied in detail for clues to German progress.
Did Bohr really escape Denmark by boat?
The Danish resistance helped Bohr escape occupied Denmark by boat. After landing in Sweden, Bohr met with King Gustaf V and asked him to announce Swedish asylum for Danish Jews. Days later, the announcement was made, and a massive fleet of fishing boats, rowboats, and kayaks crossed the Øresund Atrait carrying more than 7,000 refugees. Bohr was then flown from Sweden to England by the British bomb program. He passed out in the unpressurized plane: his head was too large for the helmet and thus did not hear the instructions to turn on his oxygen.
When was PTSD identified?
Post-traumatic stress disorder was first introduced to describe the symptoms of many veterans of the Vietnam War. A similar condition was labeled as “shell shock” during World War I. The term was used to describe soldiers who were panicked, irrational, or had tinnitus, headaches, tremors, or similar complaints though they had not been physically wounded. Soldiers identified as having shell shock often received little in the way of medical care, particularly after the war.
Was chlorine gas made by a chemist?
Chlorine gas as used as a chemical weapon was introduced by German chemist Fritz Haber. Before this work, Haber co-developed a revolutionary process for creating synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, for which Haber was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1918. Haber was Jewish, and his patriotism did not prevent the Nazis from stripping him of his academic position, and he died in exile in 1934. A memorial service was planned by Berlin scientists as a quiet protest against the Nazi’s racial laws. The government banned professors from attending, but many did anyway, including Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner, future discoverers of fission.
Erratum: In last week’s discussion, it was mentioned that there was pressure on wives to take jobs, such as telephone operators. They were encouraged to work, but the telephone operators in the Tech Area were WACs, not civilians. One of the operators, Jerry Roensch, wrote a memoir published by the Los Alamos Historical Society, “Life Within Limits.”