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Physicist Shares History of the Manhattan Project on DU Campus

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Justin Beach

Jon Stone

Media Relations Manager

Jon Stone

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It was research that was critical to bringing an end to World War II. However, few people participating in that research knew what the outcome of their work would be. The Manhattan Project began in the late-1930s, and over the next seven years, more than 100,000 workers contributed to the effort, while $2 billion was invested in producing the first nuclear weapons.

William Koch was one of the many scientists working on the project. At the age of 23, while working on his PhD at the University of Illinois, Koch was recruited to join the Manhattan Project because of his work on ionization chambers. This allowed for the taking of X-ray movies of the implosion, which has been called the most important experiment affecting the final bomb design.

Now 98 years old and living in Colorado, Koch recently was invited by the University of Denver’s Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging to speak to students, faculty and staff about his contributions to the field of physics.