The Who2 Blog

Meet the WWII Reporter Who Almost Blew the A-Bomb’s Cover

In March of 1944, a year and a half before the first atomic bomb was used at Hiroshima, a vacationing reporter from Cleveland stumbled on the top-secret nuclear program at Los Alamos, New Mexico.  

When he got back to Cleveland the reporter, Jack Raperwrote about it:

New Mexico has a mystery city, one with an area from eight to 20 square miles, according to guesses. It has a population of between 5000 and 6000 persons, not more than probably half a dozen of whom can step outside of the city except by special permission of the city boss. He grants permission only in the most exceptional circumstances and under the most rigid conditions. And it is even more difficult for a non-resident to enter than for a resident to leave.

Raper wasn’t afraid to speculate about what was going on, either:

Thousands believe the professor is directing the development of chemical warfare, so that if Hitler tries poison gas Uncle Sam will be ready with a more terrifying one…
Another widespread belief is that he is developing ordnance and explosives… The most interesting story is that Prof. [Robert] Oppenheimer is working on a beam that will cause the motors to stop so that German planes will drop from the skies as though they were paving blocks. 
What a scoop, right? But in those less wired days, the government was able to keep the story from spreading. Gen. Lesley Groves even thought about drafting Raper and sending him to the Pacific Theater… until he found out that the writer was in his sixties.
Fascinating stuff. The whole story can be found at Restricted Data, “the nuclear secrecy blog.”


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