J. Robert Oppenheimer talks about the Manhattan Project
Doing research for my book, tentatively titled “Bye, Bye Blackbird”. Oddly enough, he sounds kind of like Mr. Rogers
Groueff: After the discussion with Lawrence. Was that [Mark] Oliphant?
Oppenheimer: You will have to provide the name because I will not.
Oppenheimer: And after that, I got interested. Lawrence had this fantastic electromagnetic method that I went into some ways in increasing its effectiveness by a very large factor, which did work but it was just a question of how to design magnetic fields, really. And after Pearl Harbor, there was a meeting setting up the Metallurgical Laboratory and I attended that.
Groueff: That was in Chicago.
Oppenheimer: That was in Chicago, probably the second of January or the 26th of December—it was just after either Christmas or New Year. You can find that out. And during the spring, I did have a communication from [Gregory] Breit asking me if I would like to work with him. But for reasons which are known but not clearly to me, Compton felt that he should have at the Metallurgical Laboratory some group looking into the actual problems of the bomb and not the reactor. And I think he wanted Carl Anderson, a cosmic ray physicist from CalTech, to be in charge of that but Anderson refused. The Project was in bad order, it was thought that it was badly run, they would never get anywhere, and that there were more useful things to do for the war.