SPEAKER: Mary Argo.
SPEAKER: Virginia Olsson.
SPEAKER: Lillian Carson.
SPEAKER: Elizabeth Maxwell.
SPEAKER: Joan Hinton.
SPEAKER: Priscilla Green.
SPEAKER: Myrtle Karcher.
KATIE HAFNER: During World War II, thousands of scientists and engineers worked on the Manhattan Project, the top secret push to develop an atomic bomb that would end the war. Hundreds of those scientists were women.
SPEAKER: Francis Dunne was the only woman in explosives assembly.
SPEAKER: Floy Lee was a biologist and hematologist and researched the impact of radiation on chromosomes.
SPEAKER: Lilli Hornig had a master's degree in chemistry from Harvard.
SPEAKER: Leona Woods Marshall hid her pregnancy under baggy overalls.
SPEAKER: Naomi Livesay was a mathematician. She supervised the mechanical computing operation at Los Alamos.
SPEAKER: Carolyn Parker was a physicist.
SPEAKER: Her work was so secret, her sister said years later, “She couldn't discuss it, even with us, her family.”
KATIE HAFNER: The devastation caused by nuclear weapons sparked a moral controversy that continues to this day.
SPEAKER: Kay Way was a physicist.
SPEAKER: She signed the petition to prevent the United States from dropping the bomb on Japan.
KATIE HAFNER: Over the next few weeks, we'll be bringing you a few of these stories. The Women of the Manhattan Project, from Lost Women of Science, starting July 20th, wherever you get your podcasts.
SPEAKER: Roberta Shor.
SPEAKER: Opaline Calhoun.
SPEAKER: Elizabeth Marcus.
SPEAKER: Lorraine Barbic.
SPEAKER: Maria Goeppert Mayer.
SPEAKER: Elaine Palevsky.
SPEAKER: Evelyn Walker.
Katie Hafner was a longtime reporter for The New York Times, where she continues to be a frequent contributor. Katie is uniquely positioned to tell the stories of lost women of science. Not only does she bring a skilled hand to complex narratives, but she has been writing about women in STEM for nearly 30 years. She is the author of six books of non-fiction, and her first novel, The Boys, was published in July 2022 by Spiegel & Grau. Katie is also the host and executive producer of Our Mothers Ourselves, an interview podcast that celebrates extraordinary mothers.
In the aftermath of the discovery of nuclear fission, letters exchanged between Lise Meitner and the chemist Otto Hahn reveal how she struggled with the betrayal of Hahn, her long-time scientific collaborator, who failed not only to credit her for her work but also to condemn the Nazi atrocities.
New translations of Meitner’s letters show that antisemitism before and after World War II robbed Meitner of the 1944 Nobel Prize that went to her long-time collaborator chemist Otto Hahn.
As part of our Lost Women of the Manhattan Project special series, we pay tribute to physicists Ruth Howes and Caroline Herzenberg, whose ten-year research project ensured a place in history for the female scientists, engineers and technicians who worked on the atomic bomb.
Kay Way was a nuclear physicist who was an expert in radioactive decay. After working on the atomic bomb she became an outspoken opponent of nuclear weapons.
Lilli Hornig is the only female scientist mentioned by name in the film Oppenheimer. Here's the story of the real Lilli Hornig.
Naomi Livesay supervised the mechanical computing operation at Los Alamos and worked on computations that formed the mathematical basis for implosion simulations. Despite her crucial role on the project, she has rarely been mentioned as more than a footnote. Until now.
Aggie Lee, a young indigenous woman from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, began working on the Manhattan Project in 1945. Her job: to monitor scientists' blood for excessive radiation exposure. Yet she didn't know that she was contributing to the building of the atomic bomb. Years later, she blamed the radiation for a series of cancer deaths in her family.
Just 23 years old and armed with a Ph.D., Leona Woods joined Enrico Fermi as he led a team working to produce the world's first successful nuclear chain reaction.