Historic Manhattan Project Footage: A Human Look At Life Before The Bomb
What if the fate of the free world was depending on you, and they didn’t even know it? How would you deal with that weight?
According to this video time capsule recently unearthed at Los Alamos National Labs, you’d relax by skiing, swimming, hiking and drinking cold Coors beer. In other words, you’d act human.
Hugh Bradner, a physicist working on the Manhattan Project’s weapons testing program Project Y (and who later invented the neoprene wetsuit!), was given informal permission from the U.S. Army to shoot this collection of home movies. The hour of footage that exists was spliced down to 10 minutes for this video, and it represents our only look at what life was like for these physicists and staff during their quest to harness the atom for war.
We see them enjoying the outdoors, hiking with their adorable dogs, basking in the sun next to cool, clear watering holes (the bathing suits!), enjoying an ice-cold Coors (I like their style!), visiting the pueblos, exploring the mountains from the saddle of a horse, and even the Bradners’ wedding (featuring a cameo by J. Robert Oppenheimer).
I’m struck by how young they are, and how they are striving to enjoy the simple parts of life just as we would. These images are nearly 70 years old, but they show that even though these men and women were about to change the world in ways they couldn’t imagine, they are not so different from us.
It’s a true treasure of science history.
Bonus: Browse the I.D. badge images of Los Alamos Manhattan Project scientists! From Enrico Fermi to a very young Richard Feynman! Notice any other gems?
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