Maestros … Apprentices

  • Arthur M. Squires


For nearly four years, beginning in September 1938 when Professor John G. Kirkwood of Cornell’s Department of Chemistry accepted me as a student, I attended his brilliant lectures in quantum and statistical mechanics and chemical thermodynamics and, rarely, visited this gentle, shy scholar in his office, where he sat in a blue cloud of pipe smoke ten hours each day filling pages with chemical theory or crunching numbers from a mechanical calculator. I was shy then, too, and Kirkwood may not have been the ideal mentor for me as I was at 22. I feared that he would find me inadequate, and I worked pretty closely to his ideas and instructions, not attempting much on my own.


Gaseous Diffusion Atomic Bomb Natural Uranium Diffusion Stage Expansion Joint 
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Suggested reading on K-25

  1. Henry D. Smyth, Atomic Energy for Military Purposes: The Official Report on the Development of the Atomic Bomb under the Auspices of the United States Government, 1940–1945, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1945, pp. 154–186.Google Scholar
  2. R.R. Nimmo, Atomic Energy, The Pilot Press Ltd, London, England, 1947, pp. 152–162.Google Scholar
  3. Richard G. Hewlett and Oscar E. Anderson, Jr., The New World, 1939/1946, Volume I of a History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pennsylvania, 1962, pp. 53–226, 294-302.Google Scholar
  4. Stephane Groueff, Manhattan Project: The Untold Story of the Making of the Atomic Bomb, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Massachusetts, 1967, pp. 90–127, 154-161, 170-194, 214-230, 261-287, 331-338.Google Scholar
  5. Not trustworthy on many technological details, this book’s value is that Groueff gives many examples showing how a network among maestros of technology operated to locate the right man for each major management position; also, how this network located inventors who were able to solve critical problems. Groueff’s word portraits of major figures in the K-25 story are accurate for persons whom I knew well, but he overplays the “Horatio Alger” aspect of the lives of some of the actors in the K-25 story. On the title page of a copy of Groueff in Virginia Tech’s Library, a student has written: “This book is over-dramatized, americanized sentimental sludge.” Another student has written just below, “You are right!” I take their point but would still recommend Groueff’s book for light it sheds upon the way the K-25 team came together. We need more histories of this nature if we are to understand what makes for good and bad technological management.Google Scholar
  6. Manson Benedict, “Multistage Separation Processes,” Transactions American Institute Chemical Engineers, vol. 43, no. 2 (February 1947), pp. 41–60.Google Scholar
  7. Manson Benedict and Thomas H. Pigford, Nuclear Chemical Engineering, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1957, pp. 378–405, 472-520.Google Scholar
  8. Manson Benedict, Thomas H. Pigford, and Hans Wolfgang Levi, ibid., 2nd edition, 1981, pp. 812-929.Google Scholar
  9. These three references are for those who wish to know the chemical engineering of gaseous diffusion. The third discusses its modern rivals for separating uranium isotopes.Google Scholar

Other suggested reading

  1. Margaret Gowing, assisted by Lorna Arnold, Independence and Deterrence: Britain and Atomic Energy, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1974, volume 2, “Policy Execution,” pp. 423–441.Google Scholar
  2. The story of the British effort in gaseous diffusion.Google Scholar
  3. Samuel A. Goudsmit, Alsos, H. Schuman, Inc., New York, 1947.Google Scholar
  4. Tells of the German effort in atomic energy during World War II.Google Scholar
  5. Cuthbert Daniel and Arthur M. Squires, “The International Control of Safe Atomic Energy,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, vol. 3, no. 4-5 (April–May 1947), pp. 111–116, 135.Google Scholar
  6. Cuthbert Daniel, “Freedom Demands Responsibility,” ibid., vol. 4, no. 10 (October 1948), pp. 300–304.Google Scholar
  7. Cuthbert Daniel, “A Road to Atomic Peace,” “Where Does Atomic Money Go?” “How to Break the Atomic Deadlock,” “U.S.A. and U.S.S.R.—The Deadlock,” and “First Step in a Disarmament Race,” series of articles in The Christian Century, May and June 1949.Google Scholar
  8. These three references summarize Daniel’s and my thinking of 1947. We presented the final article in The Christian Century series at the Conference on Atomic Energy and World Organization held at Princeton University in November 1947.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur M. Squires
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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