It is about three thousand meters high. Gen G: No, unfortunately it had to be in the daytime on account Gen G: That awaits the decision of the President. In the 1930s, like many liberals, Oppenheimer belonged to groups led or infiltrated by Communists; his brother, his wife and his former fiancée were party members. Gen G: Now you may get pestered by newspapers and the like but Dr. Polenberg of Cornell, for example, expressed bewilderment that 12 pages of testimony from Lee A. DuBridge, a friend and colleague of Oppenheimer’s who discussed the atomic trade-offs and the European war situation, had remained secret for 60 years. Groueff: Could you give me a few names of the very first people who came with you to Los Alamos? But what he knew was very reassuring. Groueff: But you assume that they were at least working on it? And [I spoke to] some people from the Metallurgical Laboratory in Chicago, some people from the radiation laboratory in Berkeley. There are 58 chapter-head epigraphs in The Oppenheimer Alternative, and some of them are quite outrageous—but all of them are real things actually said by the various historical figures who populate the novel. And this could be at Oak Ridge, it could be some California desert, but someplace, there has got to be a place where people are free to discuss what they know and what they do not know and to find out what they can.” And that made an impression on him. Oppenheimer: No. They were loosely organized in divisions and the divisions represented in the governing body. Borden did not back up his claim with any solid evidence, but these were serious charges and Hoover felt compelled to inform the White House. And the initiator was nontrivial just because it had to be quiet—and really quiet—and then suddenly burst. doing the right job on the wrong assumption—I think it was about chemistry of plutonium, assuming for certain things that plutonium would behave like uranium. Oppenheimer: Have you talked to Cyril Smith? Oppenheimer: Right, although I went very soon to the MIT Radiation Laboratory, the Radar Center, to get some really good scientists like Breit and [Luis] Alvarez and [Kenneth] Bainbridge. Now by today’s standards it is not much but it was a lot then. 1000 Independence Ave. SWWashington DC 20585202-586-5000. Three weeks following the conclusion of the hearing, the personnel security board recommended against restoring Oppenheimer’s security clearance in a two to one decision. I’d honestly thought I was done when I finished my previous novel, Quantum Night, which came out in 2016. Oppenheimer: Well, they never asked that question. Oppenheimer: Well we had people, first of all, who tried to get the nuclear physics straight because this was not known. what he wants to do with him as Tyler has a great many problems that The Oppenheimer Alternative has been called an “alternate history,” but it’s really a secret history: all of the public events in the novel happened exactly as I say they did, but a large part of the action fills in mind-blowing stuff that was going on behind the scenes. Alex Wellerstein, an atomic expert at the Stevens Institute of Technology, said in a comment on the secrecy blog of the Federation of American Scientists that years ago he had asked the government to declassify the secret Oppenheimer testimony. to their next objective.”. I think [Bruno] Rossi played a very large part. After weeks of preparation, the hearing convened before a three-person personnel security board headed by Gordon Gray, former assistant secretary of the Army and president of the University of North Carolina, on April 12, 1954. The transcript has attracted intense scholarly attention even to some of its finer details. Groueff: I’m going back in to see Dr. Bacher, he was one of the important ones, one of the top people. The action brought his career to a humiliating close, and Oppenheimer, until then a hero of American science, lived out his life a broken man. Oppenheimer: They were not doing this. Transcript of telephone conversation, August 6, 1945. out? And I went and visited and saw who would like to come and invited them. I went more than once to Berkeley. I thought they might very well be winning the war. I know that my friend Ed McMillan was considered, who was then probably not quite right for it. recordings were then transcribed by his secretary Jean O’Leary. I think probably [Eugene] Wigner believed it until there were no Germans left. Dr. O: Thank you for calling and I appreciate your kind words. Not everyone in government circles had as favorable a reaction to Candor as the President. Oppenheimer was given a list of 6 people to get on the project and he did get them on it despite strenuous objections by military intelligence on at least 2 of the people. They released a few other volumes in 2013. John Manley, Robert Wilson, John Williams, [Joseph] Kennedy, [Hans] Bethe very early, [Robert] Serber, [Emil John] Konopinski. “The Oppenheimer hearing claims our attention not only because it was unjust but because it undermined respect for independent scientific thinking at a time when such thinking was desperately needed,” wrote historian Priscilla J. McMillan. Oppenheimer: So there is no point in my giving you these lists because they are published. And McMillan and I went off together with one of Groves’ officers and Groves joined us and he liked the Los Alamos site, which I showed him, and it was certainly better than the one the officer had found. no objection on the whole to their being seen by quite a few of your To learn more, visit the Energy Department Historian’s website. Gen G: Well, you know I’ve never concurred with those doubts at But they were very hard to get straight in adequate amounts. Groueff: That is a fantastic aspect to the project; everything went on single-handedly from the theoretical, experimental, and even that mathematical prediction. The man who did the circuitry for these very short-time scales is Willy Higinbotham, who was at Brookhaven. It is just a terrible substance and it is one reason why—. The working title? Oppenheimer: Well, they turned out to be a remarkable lot with very little [to work with]. A few milligrams of uranium-233, a few grams of plutonium made all the difference in the world to us, and we could not make them. Oppenheimer: Yeah, I do not know what is classified. And the initial hopes we had, we never were able to prove out in a way which was convincing observationally and therefore retreated to a method which we could prove out and which worked but which was not the ideal one. I do not know what it took to produce the hundred thousand airplanes that Roosevelt asked for but it was certainly not trivial. The pros and A more detailed history of the hearing and the events leading up to it can be found in chapters 3 and 4 of Atoms for Peace and War, 1953-1961, the third volume of the official history of the Atomic Energy Commission. “We have an A-bomb,” he told the hearing, as well as “a whole series of Super bombs.” He added: “What more do you want, mermaids?”, Transcripts Kept Secret for 60 Years Bolster Defense of Oppenheimer’s Loyalty. Groueff: After the discussion with Lawrence. Dr. O: Good. After studies in Europe, he taught physics at the University of California, Berkeley. It did not do much good [laugh]. And I actually do not, to this day, know how to make a barrier. The newly declassified portions are helpfully consolidated and cross-referenced in a separate volume entitled “Record of Deletions.”. “A difference of opinion doesn’t mean disloyalty,” he said. They saw attacking his security record as a way to attack Candor. Eisenhower was taken with the idea, which soon became known as Operation Candor -- although implementing it while maintaining secrecy remained challenging. and we are unable to comply with his wishes. 601 Eubank Blvd SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87123 Phone: (505)245-2137 . Oppenheimer: I went to Oak Ridge.