OF REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA  - Founded 24 January 1895

4:00 P.M.

February 5, 2004


Tillitt03.jpg (32954 bytes)

by Harley Tillitt

Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library



          The intent of this paper is to describe a sequence of activities which not only had a mysterious personal beginning but also led to an involvement in one important part of the Manhattan Project which resulted in the world’s first use of an atomic weapon, a technology which, almost 60 years later, is still  among the most intensely discussed topics on the world’s agenda of important issues.

Much has been written about the Manhattan Project. One of the first important contributions was a book  “Atomic Energy for Military Purposes”           by Henry De Wolf Smythe, Chairman of the Department of Physics of Princeton University. It was published by Princeton University Press in 1945.

 It was referred to as the Official Report on the Development of the Atomic Bomb under the Auspices of the United States Government, 1940-1945.

Since then a great amount of information has been placed on the Internet.

An interested individual may visit the Internet and locate much  information pertinent to the Manhattan Project including, among other things, historical information, photographs,  decision making milestones, general commentary, et al.

All of the data, diagrams and photographs which follow in this paper, and serve as background for the above-mentioned sequence as it unfolds, were derived from the two sources mentioned above: The book by Henry De Wolf Smythe  and the Internet.

It was about three months before the United States became involved in the war in Iraq that I was sitting, at home, reading. The TV was turned on but I was paying attention to it only sporadically when I heard a word that I had not heard since, perhaps,  fifty years earlier.

The TV commentator was talking about Iraq at the time and the possibility that the country had, or was developing, nuclear weapons.  The word that I had heard, or thought that I had heard, was CALUTRON.  This was the name which had been given to a system developed at the University of California, at Berkeley, for the acquisition of an adequate amount of one of the isotopes of uranium, and which led to the Hiroshima bomb. As one might expect, the word was an acronym for CALifornia  University TRON.

But, I thought, did I really hear the  word or was my mind simply wandering? I had read that CALUTRON  technology was in the possession of China and Russia. But Iraq also? I wondered.  During the  Persian Gulf War there was frequent mention, on TV, of  the possibility of nuclear weapons development in Iraq. Also that the program had been seriously disrupted as a consequence of Desert Storm.  But I had not heard, so far as I could recall, the word CALUTRON  in the TV accounts. Hence my surprise, as mentioned above.

I put down my newspaper, and  hoping to hear another similar story on the same topic, started to pay attention to the TV, but I never heard the word  mentioned again.

My mind went into what I call a “Flashback Mode.

The story of how I came to hear the word, CALUTRON, for the first time, follows.

The story starts in about May, 1942 when I had accepted a position as a civilian  Instructor at the U.S. Army Pre-Flight School at Santa Ana, California.

The U.S. Air Force,  as we know it now, had not yet been established. The Army Air Corps was interested in developing a pool of air crews in preparation for a possible future conflict: They would need Pilots, Bombardiers, and Navigators, and many of them.

In the Pre-Flight Centers there was no activity with airplanes, but the candidates were heavily involved in physical training and in academic programs. Although the courses of study for each of the three schools: Pilots, Bombardiers, and Navigators, were  similar, there were some differences.

I had been assigned to the Pilot School to teach an elementary course in physics. The textbook had been assigned by the Army,  and  there were  several procedures relative to testing, grading, etc. which had to be followed.

As I recall,  each instructor met from three to five classes per day for 45-minute periods, and   there were in the neighborhood of 40-45 students in each class. The Pilot School  physics faculty had about 8-10 members.

Classes were monitored by Army personnel from time to time. I suppose one reason for that was to check  on the Instructors. Another reason,  perhaps, was to see if any of the students were asleep.

On one occasion when my class had been monitored I asked my boss, afterwards, what I should do about it, if anything.  He told me the main thing I should do about it was NOT to tell him since he would consider the possibility that I had been the one who had put one or more students asleep !  I took his advice.

One of the physics faculty was a fellow I’ll refer to as J. Our office desks were close together and sometimes we exchanged ideas and discussed classroom experiences.

J. had been a  Ph.D. candidate, in physics, at U.C. Berkeley. However,  as a consequence of the war effort then underway: students being drafted, and professors taking positions with defense organizations, some academic programs were put on hold. J’s program was one of these and he took a position at the Pre-Flight School in Santa Ana.

One day he told me that he and his wife were going to Berkeley for the weekend to see some friends.  On Monday, back at work,  he told me, while in Berkeley and following  suggestions from some of his friends, that he had applied for a job in Berkeley, at the Radiation Laboratory, and suggested that I do the same.

I asked what the job was and he said that his friends would not tell him but they assured him that it would be very interesting.

My wife and I did not need to make a change in our situation: we had a one year old son, a new house in Santa Ana, a good job only a few minutes away from where we lived, and the unlikely chance that I would be drafted.

But, of course, sometimes decisions are made in life in ways which do not follow a line of logic that can be easily explained to others.

Consequently, a letter of application for a job I could not describe was prepared and mailed to the only name I knew:  Dr. Ernest Orlando Lawrence, Director of the Radiation Laboratory at U.C. Berkeley.  Dr. Lawrence had been awarded the Nobel Prize , in physics, in 1939, for his work pertaining to the invention of the cyclotron.

I did not expect a reply to my letter but in a short time a reply, telling  of my acceptance, was received. It was  not signed by Dr. Lawrence, but as I found out later,  another scientist who was associated with the Radiation Laboratory and who had been “borrowed” from another part of the University Faculty.

So, in time we three were en route to Berkeley.  It was early November, 1942. We were trusting to luck in finding housing. No doubt our parents were still shaking their heads at our embarkation on  this new venture.

At an appointed time I went to a Radiation Laboratory office for an interview, being quite interested in finding out what the future might hold.  The interview was held with the person who had signed the letter of acceptance of my application. Also there was the filling out of several forms which were related, I was told, to the future establishment of my security clearance.

In time my interviewer told me that I had an appointment, with a man I’ll call K., in another building which was a short distance away from where we were. I would know the building, he said, by a small sign near an entrance which said, 37-inch. The significance of the name, 37-inch, relative to the building will be explained later.

Anxious to sound appreciative and “mature” I told the interviewer  that, “I expected to learn a lot while I was here.” He replied, “Harley we don’t give a damn how much you learn while you are here, you were hired to go to work ! ”

This somehow set a definite tone to the situation.

After a short walk I was at the 37-inch building, which was rather old looking,  and could have been taken for a two story dwelling with wooden siding,  and met K. See Figure 1* . He told me that he would be busy for the next few minutes and suggested, in the meantime,  that I go across the room to a drafting table on which there were several magazines. He named a particular magazine which  might be of interest. It described, he said, a current development effort at the Radiation Laboratory.

The article was about certain  equipment which, it was thought,  might be successful in the separation of a sufficient amount of one of the isotopes of uranium to develop an atomic bomb.

So, that was it !  No wonder J.’s friends would not tell him what his job might entail.


*Bibliographic References:

Figures 1-11, as well as historical and technical data, were derived from two sources:

 [1] “Atomic Energy for Military Purposes” by Henry D. Smythe, Princeton University Press, 1945

 [2]  Microsoft Internet Explorer with search terms as “Calutron”, “Berkeley”, “Lawrence”, “Oak Ridge”,

“Atomic Bomb”,  “Fission”, “Uranium” ,“Isotope”,  “184-inch”, “Magnet”.           

                My first impression of the 37-inch building was one of confusion. There were the sounds of pumps, a myriad  of wires, a few white lab coats hanging, the drafting table, one or two lunch buckets sitting, a lathe, a drill press, and among other things, a flask holding liquid nitrogen.

The most noticeable item was a very large object around which a few people were standing and observing a control panel with several meters and lights in view.What an experience this was going to be

Quite soon I was introduced to a few individuals who were standing in front of the control panel and told that the large object was the 37-inch electromagnet. It did not match my experience with magnets which had been limited to horseshoe or bar shapes. See Figure 2.

It appeared as a large semi-circular arch, something like a half of a large doughnut resting on its edge, from the center of which was suspended a circular member which was one of the poles. There was also, under the floor but out of sight, the other half of the doughnut which was supporting a similar circular member which was the other pole. The two poles were facing each other and separated by about two feet. They were both 37 inches in diameter.

 Figure 2 is a picture of a the a 27-inch magnet.  The upper part of the arch [yoke] can be seen as well as one of the pole pieces.  It was one of several magnets used by Dr. Lawrence in his early cyclotron work. This 27-inch magnet had been converted, during the 1930s, to the 37-inch magnet which I first saw in the 37-inch building.  A picture of the 37-inch magnet was not  located but the yoke for both the 27-inch and the 37-inch were the same. Only the poles were different is diameter.

Dr. Lawrence conceived the cyclotron principle in about 1929.  It is an instrument to develop beams of high-speed particles for use in nuclear science to bombard the nuclei of other atoms and to study the forces that bind matter together

The cyclotron consisted of a vacuum  chamber positioned between the poles of an electromagnet.  Inside this chamber were two hollow semi-circular electrodes, each the shape of a capital letter “D,” facing each other and separated by a gap. They were called “dees” because they were the shape of the letter D.

In operation an  accelerator voltage was applied to each dee and was alternated between the two.

At the center of this apparatus ions were created and were accelerated toward one of the dees. The initial direction was toward one dee or the other according to  the polarity of the dee at the moment. Being within the magnetic field the ion would go into a circular orbit. As  the ion completed its half-circle, and was about to cross the gap between the two dees, the dee polarity  would change and the ion  would again be accelerated across the gap into another, but slightly  larger, circular orbit. Accordingly, this repetitive acceleration   would continue,  with the ions spiraling outward and gaining energy with each gap crossing, until they reached the edge of the magnet.

At this point the ions would be ejected and used to bombard a target of interest.

  The speed of the particles, and therefore their effectiveness, is related to the size of the magnet as they spiral outward from the center at ever-increasing speed. The diameter of the magnet limits the extent of this spiral pathway and therefore the maximum speed of the particles. Some theoretical physicists noted that, according to Einstein’s  theory of relativity, the mass of the accelerated particles would increase as they approached the speed of light. They would therefore get out of synchronization with the alternating accelerating fields and would not be able to reach the high energies  being sought.

However, it turns out that an orbiting particle in a magnetic field takes the same time to make a revolution regardless of radius or energy. Accordingly, the alternating voltage on the dees could be fixed to match the revolution frequency of all the particles in the system so that “everything could be kept in step.”

 By the time of this story the 37-inch cyclotron magnet was being put to another use. 

 But what was the “new use”  to which the 37-inch magnet was being put? Some history follows:  It had been hoped for some time in the previous several years that somehow by “splitting the atom” great amounts of energy could be made available. Just how was this to happen?

One conception of the atom is that it has a nucleus made up of protons, with positive charges, and neutrons, with neutral charges, around which are orbiting electrons, with negative charges.

All of the elements that make up our surroundings, such as silver, gold, oxygen, iron, et al. are made up from the same fundamental “building blocks” such as protons, neutrons and electrons but in different combinations.  They are identified by two numbers [1] The atomic number which is the number of protons    in the nucleus and [2] The atomic weight, which is the weight of the whole atom, including protons, neutrons and surrounding electrons and measured in atomic units. For example, uranium has an atomic number of 92 since its nucleus has 92 protons.

  There are several  isotopes of uranium, however, all with the same atomic number, 92, but with different atomic weights, such as: U-234,  U-235,  and U-238. When found in nature, over 99% of all uranium is the U-238 variety.  The isotope U-235 makes up about 0.72 %, and U-234 is less than 0.006%. 

But back to the question of where does this hoped-for energy come from relative to “splitting” the atom.

An example follows: Suppose that an atom of  uranium designated as U-238 is split, by bombarding it with a subatomic particle, a neutron. This causes a breakup into lighter atoms. Imagine that it was split exactly in half. The result would be that there would now be two “new” atoms each designated as 46/119 .

However, all possible combinations of number and weight do not exist in nature. There is no 46/119. There is, however, a 46/110.  This is the heaviest stable isotope of palladium.  But to reach  stability, as palladium, each of these “new” nuclei must eject nine neutrons.  These nine ejected neutrons, the difference between 119 and 110, are the key to the hoped-for energy.

Strange as it may seem,  the mass of the smaller atoms resulting from a split, taken together, is always less than the mass of the original atom from which the smaller atoms were derived before it was split.  This difference results in a deliverance of energy.

It was in 1938 that an important discovery was made by two German physicists, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann. They discovered that the isotope of uranium known as U-235 can be split, as mentioned above, by bombarding it with  what is referred to as a slow neutron. They discovered that this reaction also produced, on  average, 2.5 neutrons. Accordingly, if at least one neutron per fission is captured by another U-235 nucleus, a chain reaction is initiated. U- 235 is the only naturally occurring nuclear fission fuel. See Figure 3.  This diagram is taken from “Atomic Energy for Military Purposes” by Henry D. Smythe, Princeton University Press, 1945.

The product nuclei from the pairs derived from a split of a U-235 may take several forms, but the most commonly produced  ones are krypton and barium.

Other fission fuels exist,  but they must be produced. For example,  U-238  can be converted to fissionable Pu-94 and is called plutonium. [There are several isotopes.] However, if a subatomic particle strikes a U-238  atom the “chain reaction” does not develop since the neutrons necessary to continue the fission process do not emit from U-238.

This phenomenon, deriving energy from mass  as a consequence  associated with the action of fission, is consistent with the well-recognized equation E = mc2 .

Accordingly, to develop these special energy sources, it can be seen that it is desirable to collect U-235 since it has the potential to continue the fission process once it has been started, and therefore to create a source of continuous energy.

But how can this be done?  As stated earlier, uranium has an atomic number of 92 and, among many, there are two principle isotopes: U-235, and U-238.  A successful method for separation needs to be based upon differences in atomic weight. Stated in another way, unlike chemically separating, say, gold from silver, the separation of U-235 from  U-238  calls for,  not  a chemical procedure, but a physical procedure based upon difference in mass.

Adding to the complexity of the separation process, the proportion, in nature, of  U-235 to U-238 is quite small. For every U-235 atom there are about one hundred forty U-238 atoms.

One physical separation process  makes use of equipment similar to that known as a mass spectrograph. Briefly, a mass spectrograph is an instrument for the identification of the composition of a substance by separating its gaseous ions according to their differing mass and charge.

It consists of a container,  within a vacuum chamber, in which a substance of interest is placed.  The container may be heated so that the substance vaporizes. As it vaporizes it moves into a space where it is subject to bombardment. This bombardment strikes electrons from some of the  atoms of the vaporized substance thus forming positive ions. Adjacent to this location are negatively charged components toward which the ions are accelerated.  See Figure 4Note the reference to ‘Accelerating System.’

In the bottom left corner of Figure 4 is an area referred to as the “source.” It is here that the ions are formed, and from which they are accelerated, with the result that they are  entered into a circular path toward the collector, shown in the right hand corner of Figure 4

For clarification see Figure 9. There is shown a “C” shaped unit. It is within this piece of equipment that the elements of Figure 4, the source and the collector, are enclosed within a copper covering.

All of this apparatus is positioned within a magnetic field the lines of force of which are perpendicular to the direction the ions are being accelerated. The combination of these two forces, electrical and magnetic, cause the ions to move in a circular direction.

The ions move  in a direction according to what is known as the left-hand rule.  To illustrate the rule: [1] Hold the left hand  so that the palm is vertical and facing to the right, [2]Hold the thumb so that it is pointing upward, [3] Point the index finger straight ahead without bending a knuckle, [4] Bend the middle finger to that it is pointing to the right, [5] Tuck the other two fingers toward the palm and out of the way.

Now the rule: [a] The thumb is showing the direction of the magnetic field between the north and south poles, up being north, [b] The index finger is showing the direction toward which the electrically charged component is accelerating the ions, and [c] The middle finger is showing the direction the ions travel.

The result is that the ions travel in a circular direction. However, since the U-238 ions are slightly heavier than the U-235 ions, their inertia causes them to make a slightly wider arc. See Figure 4, again while considering the left-hand rule.

Thus, the two isotopes are separated by a small distance when they “arrive” at a position 180 degrees from where they started. At this location are placed two separate collectors placed slightly apart at positions where the highest concentrations of ions are expected. See Figure 4, again.

The separation distance between the U-235 and the U-238 concentrations is quite small and there is some “overlap” of the U-238 beam on top of the U-235 beam. It is a slow process, but enrichment takes place, and the  resulting percentage of  U-235 relative to  U-238  is higher than it appears in nature , which  is 1/140, or, as mentioned above,  about o.72 per cent.

 It was suggested above that for his cyclotron work Dr. Lawrence, see Figure 5,    wanted to develop an even larger system than the 37-inch,  mentioned above, or in 1939,  the 60-inch , which was used for medical research.  This was so that a larger spiral pathway, leading to greater speed, could be achieved .

His winning of the Nobel Prize in 1939  placed him in a good position to initiate planning, including funding, for the largest cyclotron yet. He pursued this interest and was successful. The poles of the new magnet would be 184 inches  [15  feet 4 inches] in diameter.

However, before the 184-inch magnet was completed for cyclotron use, WWII interfered and the system was converted for use in the separation of uranium isotopes, as mentioned above, with the 37-inch magnet. [The 184-inch magnet was finally turned back to cyclotron use in 1961.]

It might be said that it was quite   fortuitous that Dr. Lawrence’s cyclotron interests led to the 184-inch magnet since it was almost “ready-at-the-right-time” and  came to be such an important component  in the WWII effort.

The 184-inch magnet became the focus of the Radiation Laboratory’s efforts. Some urgency was associated with the possibility that Germany’s efforts in the development  of nuclear weapons might be achieving success.

Figure 6, in the Berkeley hills, shows where the  184-inch magnet was located. It was beautiful location from which to observe the surroundings.

Figure 7 gives some idea of the massiveness of the 184-inch magnet. Its pole pieces were about 6 feet apart, between which there was enough space  for most people to walk. Wrist watches would not function, nor could regular steel hand tools be used, between the poles. It weighed about 4000  tons.  However, there was room for a semi-circular arc of ions  96 inches in diameter between the ion source and the collectors in the separation process being developed to acquire U 235. See Figures 4 and 9, again.

Figure 8 is another view of the magnet as work progressed. Note the circle painted on the floor in the foreground. This circle served as a visual warning relative to entering into a strong magnetic field. Also note the three rails  extending toward the bottom of the picture, from the magnet, toward the painted circle.

A CALUTRON which was about to be put to use was first placed on these rails and then pushed into the space between the poles of the magnet. The source, as mentioned above, would be on the side nearest the left-hand rail, and the collectors on the side nearest the right-hand rail.

I have a personal recollection of the right-hand rail. On one occasion, with all voltages presumably turned off, but, while sitting on that rail and checking for some kind of malfunction, I received an electric shock. I remember shouting and then awakening some distance away, outside the circle. After a few days in a hospital I returned to work but with a cautious sensitivity sometimes when making other equipment checks.

Although the details of the 37-inch system were well known, the process of “scaling-up” to a 184-inch system called for considerable engineering skill and effort.

The theoreticians had established some ideas relative to: [1] What U-235 enrichment level was achievable, [2] How much U-235 , at that enrichment level, could be produced per day with the 184-inch system, and [3] How much U-235 would be needed to produce a weapon.

It was clear that, given a low production rate for a single unit, many units would be required. But to build a large number of the 184-inch systems, as then configured, would be undesirable.

The resulting conclusion was to retain the size of the units, which, following the suggestion of Dr. Lawrence, and mentioned earlier,  came to be known as CALUTRONS, as had been in use with the 184-inch magnet,  but to develop a new configuration for the magnet which would require less space and less material and therefore be more suitable for multiple installations.

 Figure 9 shows a CALUTRON as developed at the Berkeley Laboratory.  The prototype of the magnets to be installed at Oak Ridge had a horizontal field with room for four tanks, each with a double source.  These designs caused more than one  set of ion beams to cross on the way to their respective collectors. This did not seem to cause any difficulty relative to beam interference.

The final design called for what were called racetracks.  Which were an oval shape 122 feet long, 77 feet wide, and 15 feet high.  In general, there were alternate vertical spaces around a racetrack for 96 CALUTRONS   each with a magnet on both sides. Because of a shortage of copper   at the time,  the windings for the magnets were silver ribbons about of an inch wide and about 1/8 inch thick.  Almost 15,000 tons of pure silver were “borrowed” from a government vault for the purpose.

In time there were five racetracks of 96  CALUTRONS  in operation. To supply such a large complex and to account for the  rotation and repair of the CALUTRONS,  nearly 1200 were in use.

When the first racetrack was made operational there were, of course, many problems to be solved. It was a complicated undertaking.  To assist in this situation a small group of Radiation Laboratory personnel was sent to Oak Ridge. A group of  several of the  96 tanks was made the responsibility of  Berkeley personnel. In about six weeks these units were functioning quite well. This was encouraging since it demonstrated that the transfer of this complex  technology from “Laboratory-to Factory” was going to be successful. After these six weeks had elapsed most of the Berkeley Group brought their families and stayed until the war was over. During this time the Berkeley Group members were  assigned to a variety of roles.  Figure 11 shows a Racetrack control room. There was one cubicle for each CALUTRON. It was usual for two-person team to be assigned to three  cubicles.

As the program progressed, there was concern that the   enrichment being achieved was not  adequate to develop a weapon.  This resulted in the development of a second stage of equipment which would use as its “feed” the enriched material which had been produced from the process mentioned above.  This brought about a greater enrichment. These two processes were known as Alpha and Beta.

Accordingly, six Beta racetracks of 36 tanks each were also constructed. These Beta CALUTRONS , although based upon the same physical principles as the Alpha units were smaller and had certain differences in design.

Then, in time, the Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The ramifications of this action, after nearly sixty years are still unfolding. Monday morning quarterbacking has never been in short supply.

But, the Genie is now out of the bottle. The atom is here to stay and will not be contained within specific international boundaries. What happens in the long run will depend upon actions among politicians, anthropologists, physicists, theologians, and, perhaps others, especially mothers, both current and yet to be.

This ends the original Flashback Sequence which was mentioned at the beginning of this story. 

Some Memories of Oak Ridge, Tennessee


          It was “the thing to do” to have a garden. Sylvia suggested tomatoes. They were planted and they grew, and grew, and grew. The success of the crop was beyond our expectation. Initial concern about whether or not the plants would grow changed into concern about what we were going to do with the super abundant harvest.

We could not give them away since all of our neighbors had planted tomatoes also, and with the same results.

We came to a conclusion: Make catsup. It was easy to make . . . just boil it down until it was the right consistency, add some spices, and store in proper containers. We learned something in carrying out this plan: [Do not try it again!]

We were confronted with the following two questions: [1] How long would it take to boil down a yard-full of tomatoes? [2]What should one do  with enough canned catsup to supply a small army?

I do not remember how it all ended.


 Some will remember that during WWII there was a shortage of butter. It, among other things, was rationed and people were issued ration coupons which were necessary to present when making a purchase. However,  butter was not always available in the stores, ration coupons or not. Oak Ridge had grown in a very short time from nothing to about 80,000, and although there were several good-sized grocery stores, butter was often in short supply.

One day we found out about the University of Tennessee School of Agriculture in Knoxville which was about 25 miles away. We heard that the School of Agriculture often had butter. With a little help we located the establishment and learned of a certain green door and found that within that door there was a small hinged door about one foot square. If one knocked on the small door a person would appear from inside and a request for butter could be made.

Most of the time butter was available. Ration coupons  were still required to make the purchase, but we now had a source of supply.


When we lived in California we had enjoyed artichokes quite often.  However, they were rarely seen in the Oak Ridge markets. On one occasion Sylvia bought some and at the checkout stand the young man attending the cash register asked, “What are these things?” She answered, “They are artichokes.” He replied, “Do you actually eat these things?”


It may have been active more than one day per week but we visited it only on Saturday.  It was in a large red brick building in a busy part of Knoxville. On one side of the building were what might be called docks against which pickup trucks were backed and were unloaded.

The interior, as I recall, was almost cavernous, and not dreary but lacking in brilliant lighting. It was separated into many spaces, some larger than others, and each attended by one or more individuals offering their wares.

And what a selection it was: homemade bakery goods, handmade clothing, used and new tools, sausage and other meat products, books, magazines, candy, and no doubt many more things. One vision I retain is that of an gnarled senior citizen sitting by a pan of ice water  in which there were chunks of ice and above which was suspended a single chicken, now departed this world,  with both head and feet attached but without feathers.  With a displayed patience reminiscent of Job he was pouring  cold water over the chicken, cup by cup by cup to keep it cool.

What an institution the Market was. A place where it was clear that people were meeting friends and at the same time satisfying daily material needs. What can be better then that ?


The racetracks were operated 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Since the work area was some distance from the residential area, it was common for employees to eat in a cafeteria during their work shifts. Three things come to mind: [1] The servings were self-help, therefore ample, and cheap.  [2] There was a juke box which was always blaring at full volume. Much of the music was along the line of Mareziedotes and dozeydotes and little lamziedivy. [3] The waiters and waitresses must have been indoctrinated with a philosophy of  “clean up the tables as soon as possible after a person has finished with his meal. ” This of course made sense so that tables could be made available for others not yet seated. However, with some personnel, the training seemed to have gone too far: That is, if while eating, one was not careful, between bites, one’s plate would be snatched away.


The population of Oak Ridge was quite varied since people had come there from many parts of the country.

This was often brought home to us when people would comment on our Yankee Accent.


It can easily be imagined that the great influx of people into the Oak Ridge area might have caused some anguish and resentment in the small towns nearby. However, for some elections at least, the Oak Ridge population became a part of the local electorate.

 One incident comes to mind: It was about time for the polls to close and a line had formed at the desk of the election official in charge of checking voters’ registration.

In what seemed like an abrupt action the official, who was clearly a long-time resident, announced that the polls were closed.

One of the persons still in line objected and went outside to look at the clock on top of the old building. On his return he told the official that the outside clock showed that several minutes were left before the announced time for the polls to close.

The official heard the objection, took his watch out of his pocket and said, “My watch says the polls are closed.” And so they were.


This was an interesting operation to observe.

Leading the contingent was a single man walking in front of a slowly moving truck. He used a whistle to signal the driver either to start or stop the truck.

On each side of the street, and walking  about adjacent to the truck’s front wheels,  there was one man. The duty of each of these men was to go to the house on that side of the street, pick up the now-full garbage can and carry it to the edge of the street.  Then they proceeded forward to the next house to repeat the operation.

Near the rear wheels of the truck, and on each side of the street was another man. His job was to lift the garbage can just placed by the other man, put the contents  into the truck then place the now-empty can where it had been and move ahead as the truck moved forward.

Following these two men were two others, one on each side of the street. These two men returned the now-empty cans back to the side of the house where they had been.

Bringing up the end of this group was another single man with a whistle whose duty was to stop the operation if it somehow got slowed down for any reason, and then to re-start it when everyone was in position again.

Quite often there was singing by the  crew as they went on their way.


We are all familiar with the trash units widely known as Dempster Dumpsters , or sometimes just  called Dumpsters.

It is thought that this equipment, which comes in several sizes, originated in Knoxville, Tennessee with a company owned by the then Mayor of Knoxville,  Mayor Dempster.


As  might be imagined when a city such as Oak Ridge is under rapid construction, there are opportunities to locate piles of lumber, both used and new, as well as other building materials. All that was required was a willingness to search for it.

Motivated by the needs of two small children within a neighborhood of residences most of which also had small children, it was easy to plan a playground.

The easily located supplies led to the development of a couple of swings, a sand box, a slide, a teeter totter, and perhaps the most  popular of all, a small merry-go-round.

The latter item took some special effort. A large wooden spool, like all of us have seen on utility trucks wound with large cable, was needed. In time, about mile from the house such a spool was located. It was too large to put into a car and no truck was available so it was rolled down the streets which connected its location with the playground site in our back yard. I took some ribbing from that experience but all ended well.

I do not recall now how the unit’s  central bearing was created.

The yard drew players from the surrounding neighborhood which was  the idea in the first place.


Sylvia  became involved with the Oak Ridge School System both as a teacher and as a teacher-in-charge of  school. One interesting situation involved a boy who was about 13 or 14 years old.

After school one day he came to her and announced that that would be his last day of school.  She asked why that was going to be. He told her that his father, although enjoying his job in Oak Ridge, could make more money where that had come from, making whiskey, and they were going back there.

Just what Sylvia put in the records as a reason for leaving the school,  I do not know. She never told me.


Sylvia enjoyed her teaching experiences at Oak Ridge. The opportunity for diversity of opinions was great. She sometimes wondered, I believe, if she being from the California system of Education, was often being “put to the test.” Nevertheless, during the time she was involved she published an article in “The Tennessee Teacher,” a magazine for Tennessee educators.

The City of Oak Ridge was growing so fast  at one stage that quite often it was necessary for single  school room to be used by two different teachers. One might have a class from 7:00 AM until noon, and the other from 1:00 PM until 6:00 PM. Of course, the room decorations, furniture  arrangements and perhaps many other things would be quite different between the two teachers.

There was a bus system, of course, to transport the students. At one school where Sylvia had the “late shift,” and on the first day of her being at that location, at the end of the day the lights went out and she was involved with a roomful  of children in the darkened building and who had missed the bus.

How she managed to get everyone home I do not recall.

Sometimes, later,  she often wondered if  the incident was some kind of initiation to the school, and the “old timers” had “neglected” to tell her about a special “get-ready-to-go-home” bell.

The next day however, she said that she felt that she had been accepted as one of the gang. All was well. 

She passed.


Appendix II

List of Figures Referred to in the Text Above

Figure 1

Original Berkeley Radiation Laboratory Building

Figure 2

27” Cyclotron in the Original Building

Figure 3

Diagram showing Fission Action

Figure 4

Ion Paths inside a Calutron

Figure 5

Ernest Orlando Lawrence at 37” Cyclotron Controls

Figure 6

184” Magnet Building in Berkeley Hills

Figure 7

184” Magnet with Lawrence and Staff

Figure 8

184” Magnet as a Calutron

Figure 9

Calutron at Y-12 Alpha Racetrack in Oak Ridge

Figure 10

Figure 11

Calutron Operators of Y-12 Alpha  Racetrack at Oak Ridge

Appendix III

  An article taken from the Internet which describes some current activities pertinent to Calutron use at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories , ORNL. 

As of February 5, 2004


Harley Tillitt is a native of the village of Del Rosa, California located in what is now the North East part of San Bernardino. He attended Del Rosa Grammar school, which was on the same site as the school in which his parents, in about 1900, met in the first grade. He attended Highland Junior High School, and was graduated from San Bernardino High School, the University of Redlands, and the Claremont Graduate School.

In 1938 he was married to Sylvia Jewel Payne. There were two children, Jay Lanning and Kay Lynn.

After five years in the California Public School System he became involved with the Manhattan Project [A-Bomb] at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. After War II he was employed by the U.S. Navy, in the Mathematics Division of its largest laboratory, then known as the Naval Ordnance Test Station, at China Lake, California, with the responsibility to establish a center for scientific and technical computation. In 1971, "on loan from China Lake", he became a part of the Headquarters Staff of the Navy Material Command, located in Arlington, Virginia. He was involved with the acquisition and dissemination of information related to the Navy's Research and Development programs.

He has given papers on computer-related topics both in the United States and abroad.

He retired in 1975. He was widowed in 1994. In 1996 he married his high school sweetheart, Frances Lucille Hunting Bryan. Frances passed away in 1996.

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