Not long after completing his sophomore year at MIT, Norman Brown was recruited into the Manhattan Project. He was selected for the Special Engineer Detachment, and was first stationed at Oak Ridge before being sent to Los Alamos. At Los Alamos, Brown worked under chemist Art Wahl, who explained the entire project to Brown despite the fact that he had no security clearance. For the next two years, Brown worked with transuranic elements and helped purify the plutonium that went into the Fat Man implosion bomb. After the war, Brown received his PhD in physical chemistry from Brown University. He worked for several government agencies on food technology, renewable energy and international issues.