NYU Gallatin (Room 801), 1 Washington Place, New York
In the wake of the bombing of Hiroshima, the Manhattan Project was lauded by the press as the “best-kept secret of the war.” In some ways, this is accurate: despite a workforce of some half a million Americans, the first use of the atomic bomb was largely kept secret and achieved the shocking effect that was intended. In some ways, this is inaccurate: by 1950, it had become clear that the project had been penetrated by multiple Soviet spies. In this talk, the Manhattan Project’s security regime will be deconstructed and analyzed as to its multiple goals (which included far more than simply keeping information about the project from the Germans, Japanese, or Soviet Union), and why it was “successful” at achieving some of these goals, and why it utterly failed at others. Ultimately this approach realigns our understanding of what secrecy regimes are, how they work (and why they sometimes don’t), and the key differences between the secrecy of World War II and the Cold War that followed.
Alex Wellerstein an Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies in the College of Arts and Letters at the Stevens Institute of Technology. His general research interests are in the history of nuclear technology, government secrecy, and Cold War science.