Moon Chemist Played Key Role in Manhattan Project

By Vondas, Jerry | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 6, 2008 | Go to article overview

Moon Chemist Played Key Role in Manhattan Project


Vondas, Jerry, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Ted Magel's road to the Manhattan Project, which produced the atomic bombs that fell on Japan during World War II, began on a farm outside of the prairie town of Central City, Neb., where he was born and raised.

"Dad often said the dropping of the atomic bombs that ended the war with Japan saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of American servicemen who would have been killed in the invasion of the Japanese mainland," said his son, Robert Magel.

Theodore "Ted" Magel of Moon, a former director of quality control for Allegheny Ludlum, now Allegheny Technologies, died Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008, in Sewickley Valley Hospital. He was 89.

Mr. Magel received a full scholarship to Iowa State University and received his doctorate in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley.

Shortly after receiving his doctorate in 1941, he joined the metallurgical laboratory at the University of Chicago where he became involved in the process to produce plutonium -- named for the Greek god of the underworld -- for the development of the atomic bomb.

While working at the university, Mr. Magel, an accomplished bassoonist, joined the University of Chicago Orchestra where he met Emmy Hoyer, a student from Milwaukee, who played the oboe.

"I sat next to Ted for the performance of 'Peter and the Wolf,' " his wife said. "I found Ted to be a kind and gracious young man. We were married in 1945."

Once the testing for the plutonium was completed in 1944, Mr. Magel was summoned by the project director, J. Robert Oppenheimer, to report to Los Alamos, N.M., to continue his work.

It was there that Mr. Magel and his assistant, Nick Dallas, by reducing plutonium salts into pieces of solid metal, helped to shape the outcome of the Manhattan Project. …

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