APS News

Two-Day Los Alamos Event to Honor Oppenheimer

J. Rober Oppenheimer (photo courtesy of the National Archives)
J. Rober Oppenheimer (photo courtesy of the National Archives)
In honor of the centennial of the birth of J. Robert Oppenheimer, and to recognize the preservation of the Manhattan Project history at Los Alamos, a two-day public event will be held June 25 and 26 in Los Alamos.

Born on April 22, 1904, Oppenheimer was the first director of the Los Alamos laboratory, and the technical director of the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II.

The event, organized by the Atomic Heritage Foundation, the Los Alamos Historical Society and Los Alamos National Laboratory, includes tours, speeches, a dedication of the Oppenheimer house, and a reception and dinner.

"We need to be rooted in this history and be proud of it. We think this will be a really good event, and we want to get everybody there," said Cindy Kelly, president of the Atomic Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history of the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Age.

Kelly said the organization is planning to offer tours to some of the Manhattan Project sites, including some sites not normally accessible to the public. (For security reasons, these tours require advance reservations). "The majority of people who've lived in Los Alamos all their lives have never seen these properties that we're restoring," she added.

On Friday afternoon, New Mexico Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman will dedicate the house where Oppenheimer and his family lived. The house was recently acquired by the Los Alamos Historical Society. After the dedication, a reception and dinner will be held at Fuller Lodge, once the center of social life for the Manhattan Project community at Los Alamos.

Saturday's program features an all-day symposium on "Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project" at the Smith Civic Auditorium in Los Alamos.

One of the speakers will be Ed Gerjuoy of the University of Pittsburgh, a former APS Council member and currently Chair of the APS Committee on the International Freedom of Scientists (CIFS). He was one of Oppenheimer's last PhD students at Berkeley before Oppenheimer left for Los Alamos.

Other speakers include historian Richard Rhodes, author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb, several other historians and authors of forthcoming books on Oppenheimer, and Manhattan Project veterans who knew Oppenheimer. For more information on the program, or to purchase tickets for any of the events, visit http://www.atomicheritage.org.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette