Lost Women of the Manhattan Project Press Release

Lost Women of the Manhattan Project Press Release

New LWoS Mini-series Tells the Stories of the 'Forgotten' Women Who Worked on the Manhattan Project

Brought To Audiences in Partnership with Scientific American and PRX

SAN FRANCISCO, July 13, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The Lost Women of Science Initiative announced today a series of short podcast episodes about the women who played significant roles in the Manhattan Project – the effort during World War II to develop an atomic bomb. More than 640 women worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos alone, representing 11% of the workforce, but many of their contributions have largely been forgotten and unrecognized.

The series of six-minute biographies coincides with the release of the film Oppenheimer, and the NBC News documentary film, To End All War: Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb. .

Listen to the Lost Women of the Manhattan Project series trailer here.

Among those featured are:

  • Frances Dunne, the only woman working in the Explosives Assembly Group. Her small hands and manual dexterity gave her the ability to adjust weapons parts more easily than her male counterparts.
  • Carolyn Parker, the first Black woman in the U.S. known to receive a postgraduate degree in physics. Parker's work, which involved polonium, was "so secret she couldn't even discuss it with us, her family" said her sister Juanita Parker Wynter. Parker contracted leukaemia and died at age 48, while working toward her Ph.D. at M.I.T.
  • Lilli Hornig, an expert in plutonium, and one of the many women who worked alongside their scientist husbands on the Manhattan Project. She signed the July 1945 Szilard Petition, aimed at preventing the U.S. from dropping an atomic bomb on Japan.
  • Leona Woods Marshall, a physicist who worked with her husband, John Marshall, on the first nuclear reactor. The only woman in Enrico Fermi's group, Marshall hid her pregnancy under overalls and a denim jacket.
  • Melba Phillips, a physicist who was Oppenheimer's graduate student at Berkeley. She co-developed the Oppenheimer-Phillips Effect, which explained unexpected reactions of different kinds of subatomic particles.

Katie Hafner, co-host of Lost Women of Science, said: "It's remarkable how many exceptional women scientists contributed to this important, yet morally fraught, war effort. They were physicists, chemists, mathematicians and biologists. Most of their remarkable stories have been forgotten."

Many of the women who worked on the Manhattan Project grappled with the moral questions surrounding the destructive power of nuclear weapons. Ten of them signed the Szilard Petition.

Read more here

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