The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman

By Richard P. Feynman; Jeffrey Robbins | Go to book overview

3
Los Alamos from Below

And now a little something on the lighter side--gems about wisecracker (not to mention safecracker) Feynman getting in and out of trouble at Los Alamos: getting his own private room by seeming to break the no- women-in-the-men's-dormitory rule; outwitting the camp's censors; rubbing shoulders with great men like Robert Oppenheimer, Niels Bohr, and Hans Bethe; and the awesome distinction of being the only man to stare straight at the first atomic blast without protective goggles, an experience that changed Feynman forever.

Professor Hirschfelder's flattering introduction is quite inappropriate for my talk, which is "Los Alamos from Below." What I mean from below is although in my field at the present time I'm a slightly famous man, at the time I was not anybody famous at all. I did not even have a degree when I started to work on my stuff associated with the Manhattan Project.* Many of the other people who tell you about Los Alamos

____________________
*
The name given to the gargantuan project to build the first atomic bomb, which began in 1942 and culminated with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, respectively, 1945. The project was spread over the United States, with units at, for example, the University of Chicago; Hanford, Washington; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the bombs were built, and which was essentially the headquarters of the whole project. Ed.

-53-

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