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Finding aid prepared by KLO, 1995; JAV, 2005
© 2006 University of Chicago Library
Wilkening, Marvin. Papers
.5 linear ft. (1 box)
Special Collections Research Center
Physicist. B.S., Southeast Missouri State University, 1939. M.S., Illinois Institute of Technology, 1943; Ph.D., 1949. Professor Emeritus of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Contains correspondence, memoranda, notes, reprints, publications, and photographs. Material documents Wilkening's participation in the experiment that produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago in 1942 and later scientific work at nuclear installations.
When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Wilkening, Marvin. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
Wilkening is professor emeritus of physics and dean emeritus of graduate studies at New Mexico Tech.
While a graduate student at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Marvin Wilkening was a member of Enrico Fermi's group at the University of Chicago, which achieved the first sustained nuclear chain reaction. On December 2, 1942, Wilkening operated the neutron detector that indicated successful obtainment of a sustained chain reaction in the pile of graphite and uranium known as Chicago Pile 1.
When the U.S. Army's atomic bomb Manhattan Project was started, he continued his work on neutron detectors. He was present at New Mexico's Trinity Site during the explosion of the first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945.
At New Mexico Tech, Dr. Wilkening served as chair of the Department of Physics for 15 years. As a faculty member in the department, he conducted research on the atmospheric environment, both indoors and outdoors, specializing in the use of radon gas and its decay products as powerful investigative tools. His wife of 60 years passed away June 20, 2003.
This collection contains correspondence, memoranda, notes, reprints, publications, and photographs. Material documents Wilkening's participation in the experiment that produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago in 1942 and later scientific work at nuclear installations.
The collection also includes Enrico Fermi's handwritten description of the monitoring of the first Chicago pile, statements by atomic scientists regarding the global consequences of nuclear power, photographs of the Manhattan Project staff, notes written during the Trinity Site nuclear test, newspaper clippings and photocopies dealing with the anniversaries of the first nuclear chain reaction, and publications related to the Manhattan Project.
The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:
Fermi, Enrico, 1901-1954
Wilkening, M. (Marvin)
Manhattan Project (U.S.)-History
University of Chicago-History
Publications and photographs, 1940-1942
Manhattan Project, notes, photographs and records, 1942-1945
Correspondence and publications, 1947-1992
Enrico Fermi, articles, 1946-1952
Statements by Atomic Scientists regarding the global consequences of nuclear power, 1945-1946
Notes and correspondence, 1945-1983
Twenty-fifth anniversaries of first nuclear chain reaction, December 2, 1962 and 1967