Journal article recalls the wartime history of Los Alamos, N.M., and the development of the world’s first atomic bombs.
Alma College Professor Cameron Reed is the author of the feature story “Revisiting The Los Alamos Primer” in the September issue of Physics Today. More than 120,000 subscribers across the fields of STEM receive the publication every month.
Reed writes that in April 1943, scientists gathered at a top-secret laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M., to design and build the world’s first atomic bombs. He writes:
“Of the thousands of pages that have been written about Los Alamos, one document stands out as mandatory reading for anyone interested in the origins of nuclear weapons: The Los Alamos Primer. … The Primer is an extraordinary document. Perusing it gives one a sense of being there at the start of the Los Alamos project. In its 24 pages, [Robert] Serber both adroitly summarized the state of existing knowledge and laid out a prescient road map for the work ahead and the challenges that might arise. In this article I describe how the Primer came to be and examine some of its contents.”
Reed, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Physics, is the author of two books and numerous articles on the development of atomic bombs during the Manhattan Project of World War 11. Read more about his work.