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News & Events at the Bradbury Science Museum

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The lead article for this month's issue of @the Bradbury.

A visitor peers inside Pond Cabin.
A visitor peers inside Pond Cabin.

What do you know about the Manhattan Project? Would you like to know more than you do about this world-changing, scientific collaboration to produce a deployable atomic weapon and bring World War II to a swift resolution? If so, Los Alamos offers two excellent options to satisfy your curiosity. The first is a visit to the Bradbury Science Museum, official museum of Los Alamos National Laboratory and your window into the Lab’s captivating history and current research.  The second option is to register for public tours of Manhattan Project sites at the Lab, specifically at Technical Area 18 (TA-18), where some of the most crucial work of the Manhattan Project was performed.

Generally off-limits to the public due to still being part of the Lab, TA-18 is home to three buildings of historical significance: the Pond Cabin, which served as an office for Emilio Segrè’s Radioactivity Group; a battleship bunker used to protect equipment and staff during explosives testing; and the Slotin Building, site of the May 1946 criticality accident that led to physicist Louis Slotin’s death.  Now, thanks to a collaboration between Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Department of Energy, and the National Park Service, the public is invited to tour these iconic buildings in person and learn about the challenges, successes, and failures of their 1940s occupants.  

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MPNHP) tour kicked off with this year’s public tours to TA-18 on Friday, April 5, which coordinated with the semi-annual opening of the Trinity Test Site at White Sands Missile Range on April 6.  Visitors began their tour at the Bradbury Science Museum with a brief welcome and orientation by Museum Director Linda Deck. They also saw Racing toward Dawn, the Museum’s 15 minute signature film describing the Lab’s origin, life on the mesas during the project, and the Lab’s continuing pursuit of excellence. After the movie, and the following safety and security briefing that is part of any Lab activity, the guests were bused to TA-18. 

Unique within the Manhattan Project National Historic Park system, these tours bring public guests face to face with what life and work in Los Alamos was like for scientists and staff working on the greatest scientific challenge of their times. While the science was brilliant, the conditions often were not, and demanded extraordinary creativity and dedication from those called to the secret city to help end the war as quickly as possible. 

To register for a tour and see these sites for yourself, stay tuned to the Bradbury Science Museum’s MPNHP site for registration dates and times for the following tour dates:
July 12 and 13
October 4  

Additional information can also be found at https://www.nps.gov/mapr/index.htm.