Delivering Little Boy: Captain Nolan, Technique, and the Dawn of the Nuclear Age

This talk will focus on the unusual journey of Captain James F. Nolan, one of the physicians on the Manhattan Project. Among other unique roles, Captain Nolan ran the post hospital in Los Alamos and escorted the first atom bomb used in combat from Los Alamos to Tinian Island. From Tinian, Little Boy was assembled and put on board the Enola Gay for its fateful journey to Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Particular attention will be given to the difficult position of the physicians on the Manhattan Project. In what ways were the doctors’ traditional vocational concerns about health and safety (and their knowledge of, and warnings about, nuclear radiation) ignored, co-opted, and manipulated by US military officials at the dawn of the nuclear age?