Norris Bradbury

Norris Bradbury (1909-1997) was an American physicist and director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1945-1970. 

Between 1941 and 1944, Bradbury served at the Naval Proving Ground at Dahlgren, Virginia, working on external ballistics. In July 1944, Bradbury, then a Navy commander, transferred to Los Alamos to work on the Manhattan Project, where he headed E-5, the implosion field test program.

Bradbury was then placed in charge of the assembly of the non-nuclear components of the plutonium implosion weapon. In March 1945, we was assigned to the newly created Project Alberta, though he did not follow the group overseas. He helped design the plutonium bombs, and construct the one that would be used in the Trinity Test. 

After the end of World War II in August 1945, J. Robert Oppenheimer resigned as director of Los Alamos and recommended Bradbury as his replacement. Bradbury had planned to resume his teaching at Stanford, but agreed to serve a six-month term as interim director after being discharged from the Navy with a Legion of Merit. However, Bradbury ended up staying at Los Alamos for 25 years, the longest tenure of any director, and oversaw the continued development and testing of nuclear weapons. Under Bradbury's leadership, the laboratory expanded beyond weapons development into basic nuclear research and applications. 

Norris Bradbury's Timeline

  • 1909 May 30th Born in Santa Barbara, California.
  • 1929 Graduated summa cum laude from Pomona College with a B.A. in chemistry.
  • 1932 Received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley for working on ion mobility in gases.

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