New Mexico’s role in developing the first atomic bomb will be explored through a series of presentations organized by Recursos, a Santa Fe-based educational organization, starting June 14.
The programs coincide with the Santa Fe Opera’s presentation of Doctor Atomic this summer, as well as related events and exhibits sponsored by the New Mexico History Museum and other organizations during 2018-19.
Doctor Atomic, which takes place in Los Alamos during the summer of 1945, focuses on developments leading up to the detonation of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity site outside Alamogordo.
“Many of us know what happened firsthand. We don’t just read about it in textbooks,” Recursos Director Ellen Bradbury-Reid said. “We’ll share those experiences and hear from others who have studied the birth of the nuclear age and its ramifications.”
The first program, “Summer of 1945: The Road to Trinity,” is 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 14, in the Lumpkins Ballroom of La Fonda Hotel.
The daughter of a Los Alamos scientist, Bradbury-Reid was a child living there during the Manhattan Project. She later married a Los Alamos scientist, John Bradbury, whose father, Norris Bradbury, succeeded Robert Oppenheimer as director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. She is a well-known lecturer on the Manhattan Project, including the Soviet espionage that plagued the operation.
“This past is our present and should not be forgotten,” Bradbury-Reid said.
Along with Bradbury-Reid, speakers include Dr. John C. Hopkins, a nuclear physicist and former associate director at LANL, where he oversaw the nuclear weapons program and was involved in national security policy issues. He will talk about why the plutonium bomb had to be tested and how the component parts were engineered.
Hopkins was a visiting scholar at the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, where he edited a 1994 book on the nuclear policies of Britain, France and China. He is the coauthor (with Barbara Germain Killian) of a comprehensive history of the first decade of nuclear testing in Nevada. He has served on numerous panels and has been a technical advisor to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in Washington D.C. and Geneva.
Also speaking is Dr. James K. Hopkins (no relation), Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus at Southern Methodist University. His award-winning film, “The University and the Fate of the Earth,” focused on the importance of undergraduate education on nuclear issues, and he developed courses on the subject. His father was group operations officer of the 509th Composite Bomb Group that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and was the pilot of the photography plane on the Nagasaki mission.
Admission is $10 at the door; no reservations are necessary. For information, call 505.577.9659.