At 4:00 A.M. on November 4, 1943, Louis Slotin knocked on the doors of the Oak Ridge houses of M. D. Whitaker and R. L. Doan, directors of the Clinton Laboratories of the Manhattan District. Through the night, uranium slugs had been continuously loaded into the closely‐guarded Graphite Reactor at “Site X” in the rolling hills of East Tennessee, and Whitaker and Doan had left strict instructions that criticality should not be achieved until after they had arrived at work the following morning. However, the critical mass had been overestimated, and the enthusiasm of Henry Newson, Lyle Borst, and Slotin had perhaps been underestimated; at any rate, criticality came sooner than expected, and Slotin found it necessary to jump into a car, drive into town, and rouse the bosses from their beds for a dusty but starlit drive of fifteen miles to the reactor site.

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