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TCU 360

TCU 360

All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

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The former TCU professor who worked on the Manhattan Project

Dr. Harrison Miller Moseley stands in front of Winton-Scott Hall. (Photo Courtesy of TCU Magazine)

A former TCU student and professor worked on the Manhattan Project in the 1940s–a project that is being remembered following the release of the “Oppenheimer” movie.

The professor, Dr. Harrison Miller Moseley, was a physics and chemistry major at TCU and graduated in 1943 before continuing his studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to a 2008 TCU magazine interview by Kathryn Hopper.

While pursuing a Ph.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill, Albert Einstein and Moseley’s professor, Nathan Rosen, invited him to join the Manhattan Project, a secret United States project to develop the first atomic bomb, said Stella Brooks, author of “Unbelievable: The Unmasking of Dr. Harrison Miller Moseley.”

Moseley worked in the Naval Research Laboratory and helped develop a thermal diffusion process to supply the 235-uranium isotope that was needed for the first atomic bomb, Hopper said.

In 1950, Moseley returned to TCU to visit his former professor, Dr. Newton Gaines, who offered him a position as a professor in the TCU physics department, Brooks said. 

Moseley realized the significance of his work in the Naval Research Laboratory when he heard about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was quoted in the 2008 TCU Magazine interview saying, “I was just doing my job.”

Brooks described Moseley as a humble person.

“He never talked about all this–none of this really–until he met me,” Brooks said. “It was a miracle that his wife answered the phone. She invited me over, but she said he is not going to tell you anything.” 

Despite Moseley’s initial reluctance, Brooks managed to conduct extensive interviews with him.

“I go over there, and I had my TCU shirt on, and I said ‘you notice my shirt?,’ and he said ‘I did,’ and he talked for two hours without stopping,” Brooks said.

Brooks was given exclusive rights to his story and published her novel, “Unbelievable: The Unmasking of Dr. Harrison Miller Moseley,” in 2020.

Moseley was amongst several physicists working on the Manhattan Project.

The ‘‘Oppenheimer’’ movie tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a physicist and director of the Manhattan Project’s Los Alamos Laboratory. 

The movie was released in July of 2023 and earned $33 billion in box office sales on opening day, Jackson Murphy, an associate news editor at Variety, said.

“Oppenheimer” earned 13 nominations for the Oscars, including a nomination for best picture. The Academy Awards ceremony is set to take place on Sunday, March 10. 

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