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Coming Soon in ’24: The Atom Smashers

The Atom Smashers is a memoir in virtual reality. It is inspired by the legacy of grandfather Wilson Marcy Powell, a Harvard physicist who developed the magnets for the Calutrons in the Manhattan Project. He then became a tenured professor of Physics at UC Berkeley’s Radiation Lab under Ernest O. Lawrence.

In 1941, grandmother Powell wrote a memoir of Wilson’s summer Cosmic Ray Expedition. Dr. Powell had hauled a cloud chamber in a metal trailer to the top of Mount Evans, Colorado. He was looking for the elusive mesotron (meson) and was determined to photograph the subatomic particle. He was successful; the wily particle was caught and photographed in the gas. But as his trip was winding to a close, Wilson was visited by Dr. Brode, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley for a mission that had nothing to do with cosmic rays. Work on the Manhattan Project and the atom bomb had begun.