Roy Glauber, a great physicist and one of the last scientist of the legendary Manhattan Project, has passed away on December 26.
Roy was one of those few people who literally changed the course of history. Thanks to him and a bunch of other guys from Los Alamos in New Mexico we all are not living in the 70th season of The Man in the High Castle.
Roy participated in the development of the atomic bomb, witnessed the Trinity Test in Alamogordo, and then, after the war, disillusioned by the arms race mess that ensued, decided not to work for the military sector again.
Known as the Roy Glauber, the Nobel Prize laureate, among school kids he was better recognized for being a fantastic science educator.
When I posted the words above on Facebook, Charles Clark, a physicist from National Institute of Standards and Technology and a friend of mine, made an extremely valid correction.
Let me quote him: “May I note that Los Alamos was one of three greenfield Science Cities that were essential in the Manhattan Project. Clinton Engineering Works, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, produced the isotopically-enriched uranium used in the Hiroshima bomb, and made the first macroscopic samples of plutonium using natural uranium reactors. Those samples were critical in unravelling early plutonium chemistry needed by the Hanford Engineering Works in Hanford, Washington State. There, natural uranium reactors produced plutonium on an industrial scale. It fueled the bombs used in the Trinity test and at Nagasaki.”
Thanks Charles! I should have remembered about it.
In May 2014, together with Artur Ekert, the director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies, I had a pleasure and honor of filming Roy’s account of that critical moment in history (1943 – 1945).
It was Artur’s idea to talk Roy, a good friend of his, into participation in our documentary project. He also supported it financially (along with POLITYKA weekly). Roy with his fiancée Atholie Rosett was visiting Singapore for the Asian Physics Olympiad, had some time to spare. We happened to be there too.
So – sound, camera, etc.
We had three long, wonderfully fruitful filming sessions at the Kent Ridge Campus of National University of Singapore, and one in the atmospheric East Coast Park (the last one wouldn’t be possible without Evon Tan’s help).
The final result was embodied by The Bomb That Shook the World, an opening episode of the Pioneers series, a documentary movie that was initially published on DVD, and now is available at amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. Music was written and performed by Jacek Mazurkiewicz.
Here’s an excerpt for you. It’s 1943, Roy is only 17, has just arrived in Los Alamos, and he learns that…
Roy Glauber was one of the last surviving scientists of the Manhattan Project. Charles Clark says there’s still one among us, Benjamin Bederson, who served in the Special Engineering Detachment. There might be more – a few of them at best…
This part of the dramatic history of the XX century looses its last witnesses.