Alice Kimball Smith

American historian of the Manhattan Project.

Alice Kimball Smith (May 8, 1907 – February 6, 2001) was an American teacher, writer, and historian, known for her writing about her experiences in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project.


  • Szilard is one of a brilliant group of Hungarian émigrés, which also included John von Neumann, Michael Polanyi, Eugene Wigner, and Edward Teller. He believes this remarkable concentration of scientific talent grew out o( a special environment in Budapest at the turn of the century—a society where economic security was taken for granted, a high value was placed on intellectual achievement, and physics was taught so badly that serious students were thrown upon their own resources.
  • In the strenous autumn of 1945, when scientist tried to provide legislators with a new set of facts and a new concept of military destruction, two courses were advocated. Leo Szliard called for intensive pressure on key individuals; the scientists' lobby, which helped to establish civilian control of atomic energy, was a collective exercise in this technique. Rabinowitch, while supporting this crash program, argued that the radical change in patterns of political behavior required by the new weapons would be achieved only by the long, painfully slow process of education. The education must begin with the scientists themselves for, said Rabinowitch, the scientists had a lot to learn about how to handle political and social evidence as scrupulously as they used laboratory data, and how to think politically with the same blend of imagination and rationality that they applied to scientific questions.
  • Had the outcome of Los Alamos been anything less than the threat of man's self-destruction, I daresay what would have stuck longest in everyone's mind is the sheer absurdity, the general wackiness, of the whole operation.

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