Home on the Range
March 7, 2012 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Los Alamos National Laboratory has posted 10 minutes of newly discovered color home movie footage of the scientists of the Manhattan Project, at work and at play, shot by physicist Hugh Bradner. Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrets Blog notes some highlights and adds context.
posted by Horace Rumpole (17 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
I know it's silly, but part of me kept expecting random nuclear explosions in the background.
posted by brundlefly at 10:25 AM on March 7, 2012

I feel like this should be narrated by Red Green.
posted by sararah at 10:38 AM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

That's why 2:24 keeps freaking me out.
posted by darksasami at 10:38 AM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

(the explosion thing, not the Red Green thing.)
posted by darksasami at 10:39 AM on March 7, 2012

Wow, that was incredible.

The entire first half I was hoping they'd show more people and less machinery, more of a spotlight on the luminaries that made up the extraordinary Manhattan Project.

Then in the second half during the wedding they really show a ton of people, and as I watched I swore it was Oppenheimer in that drab brown suit, and then they freeze on him with that cheesy turn to camera. The AHA! I let out was Trinity-esque.

Addendum: I want to marry the woman at 5:05. Carrying a case of beer on your head and a bucket of ice or ice cream down to the beach while wearing a bikini in 1943 and looking hot as hell doing it? During the Manhattan Project? I Do! Bonus, she seems like one of the few people not smoking a huge cigarette.
posted by Sphinx at 10:45 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

2:31 - "This pit is to be used for burning of explosives only."
posted by Babblesort at 10:45 AM on March 7, 2012

and they say the nuclear family is dead oh i'll show myself out.
posted by fetamelter at 10:49 AM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Am I the only one to notice that every single person in the film is thin? Like, thinner then me, and I'm a pretty thin guy. I mean, most of the guys are still scrawny as heck, but I don't see any of them with a paunch, which pretty much every guy that age seems to have these days.
posted by Canageek at 10:51 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you ever get a chance to go to Los Alamos, you must must go to the Los Alamos Historical Museum, which looks small and dusty and dull, but gives such insight into the people who worked there during the war that it's a very moving experience. At least, I found it so. They also have a little gift shop that has copies of memoirs written by some of the women - wives of scientists, mostly - who lived there in the very early days, when it was all muddy "streets" and wooden barracks. Inside Box 1663 and Tales of Los Alamos were both fantastic.
posted by rtha at 10:57 AM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Fantastic footage. I especially liked the identifications of some of the people.
And +++ for there being no period music laid-over (or faux projector clatter.)
posted by Thorzdad at 11:01 AM on March 7, 2012

They are pretty thin, but I wouldn't necessarily extrapolate much extra health from that. Smoking, of course, but also a recent and arguably ongoing Depression you may remember.

Almost everything I know about the project comes from Feynman's books, so it was surprising to me that he's not in here. But he was really a small-to-medium cog and in any case this film wasn't documenting Important Things, just daily things.

What I was mostly struck by was the size. I knew there were lots of physicists and whatnot, but I always imagined them in a few barracks or hastily-built wooden apartment buildings covering maybe a couple hundred square meters. This looks a lot more extensive than that.
posted by DU at 11:51 AM on March 7, 2012

Hi, ma! We're building a doomsday device. Wish you were here! XOXO
posted by Camofrog at 12:18 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bethe on ice!
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:29 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

This looks a lot more extensive than that.

And yet it's far more sparse than I imagined. I always envisioned the machine shop to be highly polished and full of incomprehensible purpose-built tools. Rows of Quonset huts and cement outbuildings in regular grids: everything far more sealed and guarded. This looks as slapdash as a low-budget summer camp, and not secure at all.

And no Feynman, but then you can't have everything.
posted by clarknova at 12:36 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

@4.52 you can see Don Mastick, a year before he accidentally swallowed a significant portion of the world's supply of plutonium. They pumped his stomach and made him purify the plutonium out.
posted by 445supermag at 7:29 PM on March 7, 2012

Wow, I haven't felt that homesick in a loooooong time. Tsankawi, Frijoles Canyon, the Valles Caldera...that may even have been Edith Warner's place at 4:25...
posted by Lazlo at 11:33 PM on March 7, 2012

« Older "I gotta tell you something — this is a lot better...   |   “You called us, Pu, and we came!” Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments