Naval Research Laboratory: The Naval Research Laboratory is the corporate research laboratory for the Navy and Marine Corps. It is located in Washington, D.C.
Credit: Naval Research Laboratory
After graduation it was tough getting work as a physicist, but I finally got a job at the Naval Research Laboratory working in the Metallurgy Department, doing all sorts of applications of X-rays and gamma rays. Then, during the war, I was working on developing detectors for radiation. Immediately after the bombing of Japan, we wanted to send in survey teams to map out the distribution of radioactivity from the epicenter of the bomb. I had made a number of portable exposure meters and actually published descriptions of them, but surprisingly, there didn’t seem to be any instruments of this type in the Atomic Energy Project. They had all sorts of instruments for measuring radioactivity, but no portable battery-operated devices. We put together some radiation devices, calibrated them, and equipped their team to make the survey of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From there on the Navy had a great concern for radiation problems connected with atomic warfare: how to decontaminate ships and other facilities that had been exposed to atomic bomb attack, and generally how to monitor areas for contamination. We worked with the Navy for many years developing a whole catalogue of devices for detecting different kinds of radiation.
I didn’t know that we had developed the bomb when I learned about the bombing of Hiroshima. As the story came out, the feeling was one of very great horror. There was concern on the part of all scientists, I think almost immediately, that we had developed something terrible.