The First Pile: CP-1

This article is an edited and adapted version of a report, "The First Pile," which was written in Autumn 1946 because nowhere in the extensive records of the Manhattan Project was there a narrative history of the first self-sustaining, nuclear chain reaction with the Chicago Pile-1. The report was prepared for a press release by the Manhattan Engineer District and the article was published in Nuclear News, November 2002. )

The authors of "The First Pile," Corbin Allardice and Edward R. Trapnell, were two public information officers for the Atomic Energy Commission, the agency that succeeded the Manhattan Project on January 1, 1947. Allardice and Trapnell believed that the story of the experiment of Enrico Fermi and his team at the University of Chicago that achieved success on December 2, 1942, was of such significance that it should be written down while still relatively fresh in the minds of those who took part. Their report was based on postwar interviews with more than a dozen of the 50 scientists present at Stagg Field on that historic occasion.