Click her for the Midnight Run wells.
A Note To The Granddaughters
I am still in my Manhattan Project - Los Alamos phase, reading several books simultaneously on the subject. One of the books is a thin little hardback that I can't imagine anyone reading except for those who actually had something to do with Los Alamos directly. That's too bad. It's an incredible book: Inventing Los Alamos, Jon Hunner, c. 2004.
Everything about it, on the bookshelf, and quickly paging through it, suggests that it would be a dry biography of a manufactured town during WWII. Not.
It's hard to believe Richard Feynman was there. Somehow I pictured him as emerging full grown as an adult one day at the California Institute of Technology, perhaps having arrived with the other extraterrestrials who visited the earth in the early 20th century (see Teller).
Having lived on military bases for most of my adult life, and having lived on many "bare bases," I relate easily to the stories that are told about building Los Alamos.
The colonel who had built the Pentagon, the building, was placed in charge of "building" the "Manhattan Project" which would ultimately consist of relatively large civilian-military sites around the US (from Manhattan, NYC, to Los Alamos, to Washington State, and points in between). The laboratory director was J. Robert Oppenheimer, 38 years old at the time, and a known sympathizer and supporter of the American Communist Party (whether he was a member or not was, and is, still a matter of debate). The first base commander was transferred after he suffered a heart attack dealing with the base populace over the problem of bad produce (fruits and vegetables) at the commissary. He was replaced by the colonel who had just overseen the construction of the Alaskan Highway.
The location for the town was selected during the evening of November 16, 1942. By the end of 1945, the work at Los Alamos had pretty much come to and end. Less than three years. Coming just after the Pentagon had been completed, as well as the Alaskan Highway.
And we can't even get a pipeline from Canada built after eight years of studying the environmental impact the pipeline might have.
The book, by the way, reminds me of Hunter S Thompson's Hell's Angels. The stories cannot possibly have anything in common, and yet the observation and description of the human condition by Hunter S Thompson and Jon Hunner have some connection, I suppose. The fact that both books are about the same size probably contributes to a feeling of similarity. And, both are being read under similar personal circumstances by the reader.
My reading of the Jon Hunner book continues. It was hard to read the pages following that first nuclear explosion south of Los Alamos. The descriptions were unsettling (for lack of a better word, I suppose). And then three weeks later Little Boy is dropped on Hiroshima. Listening to the music and reading the descriptions Hunner provides is almost a life-altering event. How fast events moved in Los Alamos during the next few days and weeks. How fast events moved as the war came to a sudden, decisive end. The USS Indianapolis that had delivered the nuclear components to Tinian Island in the Pacific was sunk a few days later "with great loss of life." I am impressed how well Hunner writes this story. He references Peggy Pond Church's The House at Otowi Bridge who had a deep sense of foreboding during the night of July 15 - 16, from her home in Taos. The bomb was set off at 5:29:45 a.m. Based on the Amazon reviews, I will have to read the book.
Three days later (another story line), a Fat Man bomb fell on Nagasaki. Nagasaki was the alternate target; the primary target, Kokura, was obscured by ground haze and smoke. Fat Man was dropped from Bock's Car at 11:50 a.m. July 19.
The war ended on August 10.
- Hiroshima: Little Boy, July 16, one plane: 15,000 deaths/square mile
- Nagasaki: Fat Man, July 19, 5 tons, one plane: 20,000 deaths/square mile
- Tokyo: firebomb raids, March 9, 1945, 1,667 tons of explosives, 279 planes: 5,300 deaths/square mile