J. Robert Oppenheimer. Courtesy photo
With prospects looking good this year for a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) is launching a timely new website for prospective visitors to the Manhattan Project communities at www.atomicheritage.org.
The new park is expected to generate 500,000 or more tourists to Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Hanford, Wash., over the next decade. As a preview of coming attractions, prospective visitors can take a virtual tour and immerse themselves in the Manhattan Project online.
With colorful photographs, an interactive timeline, extensive articles on Manhattan Project history and oral histories of hundreds of Manhattan Project veterans, the new website will feature a powerful new interpretive tool called “Ranger in Your Pocket.” Based on a BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) strategy, this technology-based tool represents a fundamental shift in engaging visitors by empowering them to use their personal smartphones or tablets to create their own tour experience.
The first “Ranger in Your Pocket” tour is to the historic B Reactor at Hanford. Additional tours under construction will feature Los Alamos and Oak Ridge, and draw from AHF’s extensive oral history collection as well as documentary footage and photographs.
One of the most popular features of the new website will no doubt be the “Profiles” section, with its extensive database of Manhattan Project veterans and their families. To whatever extent possible, each profile includes information about the person’s involvement in the project, a timeline of the person’s life and relevant personal photographs. The profiles also link to the oral histories on AHF’s “Voices of the Manhattan Project” website.
Visitors can filter by location and profile type, such as Manhattan Project veteran, family member, scientist, spy and more. Eventually AHF hopes to include 10,000 Manhattan Project veterans in the database, making it the most comprehensive list of Manhattan Project workers online.
One of the most exciting features of the new website is an “Atomic Timeline,” organized by different eras, which follows key discoveries and developments in nuclear history, World War II and the Cold War. The website also features educational resources, with lesson plans and articles on the science and history of the Manhattan Project and the project sites. The legacy of the bomb is well illustrated with photographs and references for additional research.
With a wealth of information, AHF’s website promises to become an important resource for learning about the history of the Manhattan Project, the people who worked on the world’s first atomic bomb, and reflecting upon its complex legacy for our lives today.