Manhattan Project Lecture Oct. 13 Features Life Of Harold Urey Presented By Smithsonian Curator Matthew Shindell

Smithsonian curator Matthew Shindell will discuss how the Manhattan Project shaped Harold C. Urey’s life from farm boy to scientific celebrity. Photo Courtesy Los Alamos Historical Society

The Oct. 13 Manhattan Project Lecture will draw from Matthew Shindell’s new biography of Nobel Prize-winning chemist Harold C. Urey (1893–1981). Courtesy photo


Join the Los Alamos Historical Society online at 6 p.m. on October 13 for a fascinating look at the life of Manhattan Project scientist Harold Urey presented by Smithsonian curator Matthew Shindell. How did the Manhattan Project shape Urey on his path from farm boy to scientific celebrity?

Historical Society lectures are free, but registration is required to provide you with the Zoom link. Lectures are limited to 100 participants, so sign up early to reserve your spot. To register, visit and follow the links to our EventBrite page.

This talk draws from Matthew Shindell’s new biography of Nobel Prize-winning chemist Harold C. Urey (1893–1981), The Life and Science of Harold C. Urey. Urey was one of the most famous American scientists of the 20th century and participated in some of the century’s most significant moments, including the Manhattan Project and NASA’s lunar exploration program. Shindell shines new light on Urey’s achievements and efforts to shape his public and private lives. He follows Urey through his orthodox religious upbringing, the scientific work that won him the Nobel Prize, and his subsequent efforts to use his fame to intervene in political, social, and scientific matters. By exploring those efforts, as well as Urey’s evolution from farm boy to scientific celebrity, we can discern broader changes in the social and intellectual landscape of twentieth century America.

Matthew Shindell is Curator of Planetary Science at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. He co-hosts the museum’s podcast, AirSpace. He holds a PhD in History of Science and Science Studies from the University of California, San Diego, an MS in Biology and Society from Arizona State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Shindell has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, and UC San Diego.

The lecture series will continue with a 6 p.m. presentation on November 17 when Alex Wellerstein will present “The ‘Best-Kept Secret of the War’? The Successes and Failures of Manhattan Project Secrecy.”

The Los Alamos Historical Society lecture series is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Enterprise Bank & Trust, Member FDIC; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the New Mexico Humanities Council; and Robin and Richard McLean.

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