Panel discussion to feature author, Y-12 Manhattan Project workers

Denise Kiernan

Denise Kiernan

Best-selling author Denise Kiernan will host a panel discussion with women employed at Oak Ridge during the top-secret Manhattan Project of World War II.

The panel discussion will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday, September 23, at the American Museum of Science and Energy. Admission is free.

Kiernan is the award-winning author of “The Girls of Atomic City,” a New York Times best-seller that tells the story of the women who worked at Oak Ridge during the war years.

Some of these women, known as “Calutron Girls,” adjusted dials that controlled the workings of the 1,152 calutrons used to separate isotopes of U-235 from naturally occurring uranium, a press release said. The work fueled “Little Boy,” the first nuclear bomb used in warfare. [Read more…]

AMSE educators receive training at Space Camp

Kris Light and Renee Kelley in Flight Suits

Kris Light, left, and Renee Kelley in flight suits. (Submitted photo)


Kris Light and Renee Kelley, outreach educators at the American Museum of Science and Energy, recently attended Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, NASA’s official Visitor Information Center for Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Alabama.

The educational program promotes science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, while training students and adults with hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership, and decision-making. Space Camp uses astronaut training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of STEM subjects, a press release said.

Light and Kelley were part of the Space Academy for Educators Program, which is designed for teachers who want to advance education in the STEM fields. They experienced astronaut simulators and took a virtual tour into space to save the International Space Station. Trainees also followed lesson plans based on NASA content (which is correlated to the National Science Education Standards) and received content and knowledge to pass on to their students in the classroom. [Read more…]

AMSE opens three new science-themed interactive exhibits



Space exploration, supercomputing, and neutron science are featured in three new hands-on exhibits at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge.

The exhibits showcase national science topics with local ties to research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“Bringing more of the modern lab into AMSE enhances our mission,” said AMSE director David Moore. “In addition to learning about our past, we hope visitors enjoy learning about the fascinating scope of research ongoing at ORNL.” [Read more…]

DOE offers expanded public bus tours of federal sites in Oak Ridge

DOE Public Bus Tour

Public bus tours of the U.S. Department of Energy’s facilities in Oak Ridge are now offered nine months of the year. (File photo courtesy DOE/Lynn Freeny)


The U.S. Department of Energy’s public bus tour of federal sites in Oak Ridge is now offered to visitors nine months out of the year, versus only summer months as in the past.

This popular tour of the 33,000-acre DOE Oak Ridge Reservation offers visitors a first-hand look at all of the DOE’s Oak Ridge facilities and provides historical commentary on the transformation of the Oak Ridge Reservation during the past 70-plus years.

The reservation-wide tour is a popular attraction for tourists visiting the area.  Since its inception in 1996, the DOE public tour program has attracted approximately 35,000 visitors from all 50 states. The three-hour DOE tour allows visitors to see the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation and learn about its rich history and how Oak Ridge became a secret city of 75,000 people with a mission to end World War II. [Read more…]

Tickets going fast for Weinberg film

Alvin Weinberg Poster

If Alvin Weinberg, the most famous of Oak Ridgers, were alive today, he would be celebrating his 100th birthday.

This Thursday evening, as many as 600 people will celebrate his centenary by watching for free “Alvin Weinberg,” a documentary film by Oak Ridge’s Keith McDaniel.

The one-hour film, which is of PBS quality, will be shown at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Thursday, April 23, at the American Museum of Science and Energy.

The first showing is “sold out,” but a few seats are left for the second free showing at 8 p.m. To reserve a seat, you must call Connor Matthews at (865) 705-5890 or Tom Row at (865) 705-5174.

Task force to consider changes to Secret City Festival

Secret City Festival Kix Brooks June 2014

Country music artist Kix Brooks, who was part of the country duo Brooks and Dunn, performs during the 2014 Secret City Festival. (Photo by Rob Welton)


A new task force is scheduled to discuss potential changes to the Secret City Festival on Thursday, including shifting the annual festival to small events from mid-October to November 11 (Veterans Day), creating a nonprofit organization to run the festival (and possibly other special events), and voting on changing the date of the festival and whether it should be a one- or two-day event.

The new task force will also discuss unique opportunities for a festival theme and could develop a list of potential entertainment venues to be used throughout the city for the festival, consider other potential festival dates, and develop a list of potential partners.

The meeting of the Special Events Advisory Task Force starts at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 23, in the Oak Ridge Recreation Center’s Craft Room at 1402 Oak Ridge Turnpike. [Read more…]

Three Dog Night to headline Saturday night concert at Secret City Festival

Three Dog Night

Three Dog Night (Submitted photo)


Three Dog Night will headline the Saturday night concert at the Secret City Festival in June.

The band’s hits include “Joy to the World,” “An Old Fashioned Love Song,” “Mama Told Me (Not To Come),” “Black and White,” “Shambala,” and “One.”

The 13th Annual Secret City Festival is June 12-13. Three Dog Night will play on Saturday, June 13. [Read more…]

New film on former ORNL Director Weinberg has premiere on April 23

Alvin Weinberg Poster

The world premiere of a new film on the life of former Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Alvin Weinberg will be held on Thursday, April 23, at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge. The film was written and directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker and Oak Ridge resident Keith McDaniel.

Although McDaniel has written and directed more than a dozen documentary films, he is generally best known for his films “Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story” and “The Clinton 12.”

According to McDaniel, the biographical documentary entitled “Alvin Weinberg” explores the life of the internationally renowned nuclear scientist.

“I didn’t know Dr. Weinberg very well although I did interview him a couple of years prior to his death,” McDaniel said. “His was a fascinating life. In making this film, I wanted to not only tell stories of his professional achievements but I also wanted to show what Dr. Weinberg was like as a person.” [Read more…]

Planning for national park, Park Service tours Jackson Square, K-25, ORNL, Y-12

Vic Knox of National Park Service

Vic Knox (Photo by D. Ray Smith)

Note: This story was last updated at 12:37 p.m.

Planning for the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park has started, and federal officials this week toured Jackson Square, the former K-25 site, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Y-12 National Security Complex.

Stops included the Alexander Inn, Chapel on the Hill, the former K-25 Building site, the Graphite Reactor at ORNL, and two buildings at Y-12: Building 9731, a pilot plant, and Building 9204-3, also known as Beta 3.

“Several of those sites are just amazing,” said Vic Knox, associate director of park planning, facilities, and lands for the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. “They seem like they are just the way they were in 1943. It seems like they take you back in time.”

Oak Ridge was built as part of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal program to build the world’s fist atomic weapons during World War II. Besides Oak Ridge, the new national park includes Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford, Washington. [Read more…]

Planning to preserve history of K-25, which could be part of national park

K-25 Building Aerial View

Now demolished, the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building, pictured above, was once used to enrich uranium for atomic weapons and commercial nuclear power plants. Located in west Oak Ridge, the site could become part of a new Manhattan Project National Historical Park. There is a separate effort to preserve K-25’s history; that work could be incorporated into the new park. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy)


It was once the world’s largest building under one roof and part of the one of the largest industrial projects ever, a top-secret program to build the world’s first atomic weapons in World War II.

Today the building is gone—demolition was completed in December 2013—but the stories of what took place inside the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building could live on in a replica equipment building, viewing tower, and history center.

And K-25 could become part of a new Manhattan Project National Historical Park approved by Congress in December and signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 19. The 14-page bill was the culmination of 15 years of work, said Colin Colverson, Manhattan Project Park lead in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office.

The law recognizes the Manhattan Project as one of the most significant events in U.S. history, with assets and history that must be preserved. It’s considered one of the top scientific achievements of the 20th century, and Oak Ridge residents still marvel at how quickly the three local sites (K-25, X-10, and Y-12) were built and began operating in all-out race to build an atomic bomb before Germany. [Read more…]

K-25 historic preservation the subject of Thursday lecture

K-25 Footprint

A view of the K-25 footprint. (Image courtesy Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association)


The project to preserve the history of the former K-25 Building, once the world’s largest building under one roof, will be discussed during a Thursday evening lecture in Oak Ridge.

It’s the opening of the 18th Annual Dick Smyser Community Lecture Series. It’s jointly sponsored by Friends of ORNL and the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association.

The presentation will provide an update on the K-25 historic preservation efforts by the U.S. Department of Energy Environmental Management, a press release said. [Read more…]

Council to consider Preschool paint, special events task force

Oak Ridge Preschool and School Administration Building

The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday will consider using $150,000 in unspent red-light camera money to repair the lead-based paint on the Oak Ridge Schools Preschool and Robert J. Smallridge School Administration Building on New York Avenue. Officials say the building needs to be renovated or vacated for the Head Start program to receive funding in the 2015-2016 school year. (File photo) 


Mark Watson

Mark Watson

The Oak Ridge City Council tonight will consider using $150,000 in red-light camera money to repair the lead-based paint on the city’s Preschool, providing what officials hope will be a temporary fix while they develop a plan to permanently repair, replace, or move the Preschool.

Officials say the building needs to be renovated or vacated for the Head Start program to receive federal funding in the 2015-2016 school year. They are hopeful that their plan to fix the lead-based paint on the decades-old home of the Preschool on New York Avenue by August 3 will satisfy federal officials. A remediation plan could be submitted to federal officials and Anderson County education officials by March 4.

On January 26, the Oak Ridge Board of Education recommended a few first steps that could have children in a new building next year. In addition to asking the city to repair the lead-based paint, the BOE unanimously recommended a new committee be formed to help lay the groundwork for moving into a new preschool by the 2016-2017 school year.

The Oak Ridge Schools Preschool and Robert J. Smallridge School Administration Building is owned by the city, and the municipal staff would lead the repair project. [Read more…]