Los Alamos National LaboratoryBradbury Science Museum
Your Window into Los Alamos National Laboratory
Bradbury Science Museum

New Mystery Artifact Series

Figuring out the "Fried Egg."
June 1, 2020
"Fried Egg" marking on Manhattan Project photographic equipment.

"Fried Egg" marking on photographic equipment used during the Manhattan Project.


  • Stacy Baker
  • (505) 664-0244
  • Email

Over the years, the Bradbury Science Museum has accumulated over 2500 historically unique, significant, and even profound, artifacts. J. Robert Oppenheimer’s saddle, General Leslie Groves desk, Project Y offer letters of employment, 1773 bridgewire detonators, and thousands of components from historical research at the Lab are meticulously cared for by the Bradbury Science Museum.   

In 2015, when our newly arrived Collections Specialist began the rather lengthy process of officially documenting and cataloging every artifact in the Museum’s warehouse and galleries, the majority of those artifacts already had at least a brief file to provide provenance. While some of those files were quite sparse, and others required a bit of additional scrutiny, they still provided the facts or clues needed to accurately catalog those thousands of artifacts and properly organize the warehouse. That said, a few mysteries remain. 

One such mystery is not so much an artifact, but rather a curious marking found on our Manhattan Project cameras and camera equipment. The marking, a small, bullseye paint spot, can be seen below and is simply referred to as “Fried Egg” in an artifact’s file (if mentioned at all). In spite of our best efforts—reaching out to our partners in the Lab Archives group and on the Bradbury’s History Committee, checking with our artifact donors, calls to industry peers—the Museum has yet to identify the origin of this rather obscure marking, much less deduce its meaning.

So, here’s where you come in! The Bradbury Science Museum invites you to examine the information we do have and to sleuth around a bit in order to help us figure out just what the Fried Egg marking means and why someone would have painted it on these Manhattan-era cameras.  Did it designate the cameras as having been used for a specific project? Were they used at the Trinity test? Did the owner really like breakfast? If you have a moment, and would like to help us solve this mystery, we’d love to share what you discover in next month’s newsletter. Please send your discoveries about this "markings" mystery to our Collections Specialist at wstrohmeyer@lanl.gov.

 "Fried Egg" marking on photographic equipment used during the Manhattan Project."Fried Egg" marking on photographic equipment used during the Manhattan Project. 


Mitchell motion picture camera with "Fried Egg" marking.The Mitchell Motion Picture Camera, pictured here, is currently on display in the History Gallery. Note the small, bullseye marking next to the yellow decal.

 For more information about the Bradbury Science Museum’s artifact collections, please visit our website.