discussion which you had concerning an
important technical question with A. II.
Compton. To me the absence from the
conference oj such men as A. 11. Compton, E. 0. Lawrence, and II. C. Urey
was an unfortunate thing but up to that
time in your office last Monday I had
put it down simply to their being too
busy toith other matters.
I feel so strongly that this policy puts
you in the position of trying to do an
extremely difficult job with three hands
tied behind your back that I cannot accept the view that such internal compartmentalization of the larger project is
proper. My disturbance was complicated
with the feeling that I might sooner or
later unintentionally violate such rules
through failure to comprehend them
fully. On my way through Chicago
coming out here I had a friendly chat
with A. H. Compton about the project
at his home which probably would be
considered improper though if so I
would say the scientific position oj the
project is hopeless.
ORDNANCE WEAK LINK
To speak of something more on the
positive side, I feel that the laboratory-
is extremely well staffed on the basic
physics side. You have several first-rate
young experimentalists in Williams,
Manley, and Wilson, who will do a
splendid job in setting up the equipment
and getting useful results from it. If to
these can be added a couple of maturer
experimentalists like Allison, and
Backer, in addition lo McMillan, the
success of this side of the project is
assured. In the auxiliary fields like
chemistry, with Kennedy and Segre, and
metallurgy, with Cyril Smith, I do not
think that you could have done better.
The theoretical group is, of course, ex-
tremely brilliant. As you know tin- ord
nance side is the weak spot and the one
which will require some first-rate specialized mechanical engineering. This is one
of the points at ivhich I feel that Westinghouse might be of effective help on
The way the presence of such an
excellent staff reacted on me was something like this: I found myself in a role
analogous to that of a military man who
would suddenly shift from the Air Force
to submarines in the middle of a war. 1
saw that I would face a great task of
learning a job while surrounded with
people who understood it much better
than I. At the same time, administratively, I would have lo make decisions
affecting their technical activities. Of
course there are many minor matters
that 1 could have handled as a stuffed
shirt but I hope that that is not the best
use of my abilities.
Now to get back again lo less agreeable matters. I am worried about a situation ivhich is not fully clear to me and
perhaps is not as bad as my impression
of it. I feel that an attempt is being made
both by the Manhattan District and by
the University of California to put too
many restrictions on the activities of Dr.
D. P. Mitchell. We have roomed together
since he came up to the site and I know
tluit he feels baffled and perplexed by
some of the things confronting him. lie
is working with a high expenditure of
nervous energy and I think that he
should get more backing, otherwise an
irreplaceable man may be lost. (Please
let it be clear that these things are my
own observations, put forth on my own
responsibility, that he has in no way
suggested that I take this up, that in
fact, I am taking it up more as a laboratory problem than as Mitchell's personal
In the first place. Dana Mitchell is an
—Wide World Photo
Exterior of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory's historic "D" building, in which the first
pieces of plutonium readily visible to the naked eye were fabricated.
absolutely unique individual in li"<'r
He is a good physicist. In addition
has been buying equipment and sup? K
for experimental research projecti
some fifteen years, including recent
perience in setting up such service
several war research projects. Sitw
as we are in remote isolation tin- s\
problem is unusually difficult,
moreover extraordinarily difficult 0"
to war shortages. A man in Mitch
position needs to have complete am
ity, freedom of action, and rest
bility within his field. A mat
Mitchell's experience and compe
should be given it unhesitatingly.
only criticism of Mitchell 1 have
heard is that it is said that he "
simplified his records and accou"
procedures. I do not know whethem
is true, in any case it is tin- A"1'
matter on which there is bound \
strong difference of opinion.
What I would strongly recorni
in this connection is that MitchQ
given complete control over all
curement, that il be absolutely de,
that the Los Angeles office is under
lhat he have full authority and res\
bility hi procurement matters, th®.
contractor do no more than $e''.
accountants who record what he
but that no person except yourself
a position to question what he doe'
Finally there is the matter oj
working relations with the local ""'',
people. On the whole they have '
remarkably well in getting the
started. But 1 feel that there is
room for improvement although
of the present fault lies on me jot'
not carry on effectively a lot oj "
which I would have done if mil m
occupied with my personal decision
worst trouble seems to be a lack Oj i
communications, I fully expect thi
nill remedy itself when Colonel H"r
mill his Staff take up resilience h,'rt'
an effective town council is orgtttl
SCHOOL SITUATION URGENT wis
Hut there is also an unnectj, ((n(
vagueness about many features °l
Um n life with which th,- technical
are i ilnlly concerned. The M'/ieee"
linn is the must urgent. Many "fl 1
milliters are extremely anxious to ' '"'<
ec lull is being done ami lime the ■""* ""1
Ore In be handled. These people 4 req
from gond neighborhoods where
are good public schools. Many oj I sen
mi more worried about the schoO',
than anything else affecting </'c'r I km
out of working hours. This mull''" esei
me a great deal of personal concent ^
I know it is a factor lhat icri
in Ruin', mind in his probabt
no! lo come. This situation "'"
helped with me by the way '"
General Groves replied to my
with a short plea for no "frills f
none had been asked lor. together
FACTS FORUM NEWS, Januafli
n* of i