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Jack Michel and England's 'Manhattan Project'

M. Roberts

Jack Michel, the eldest son of Leon Michel, trained as an actuary and as a statistician. He also had a sound scientific skills and was recruited by the government on the early stages of the atom bomb project. During World War II, he worked on the top-secret British initiative to develop the atom bomb, which was code-named the 'Tube Alloys' project. He provided statistical analysis for the project at Manchester.

The Tube Alloys Project came out a memorandum to the British government, written by Otto Robert Frisch (1904-1979) and R.E. Peierls (1907-1995), 'On the construction of a "super-bomb" based on a nuclear chain reaction in uranium'. This showed that an atom bomb was both powerful and feasible. Many top scientists worked on the project from 1940, at different universities. Some of the scientists were Jewish and Jewish refugees from Germany. The main atomic research centre was in a remote part of Wales, at the Valley Works at Rhydymwyn, near Mold, Flintshire.

Due to the vulnerability of research facilities to bombs, and the lack of resources in War-time Britain, to complete the work, the project was passed to the Americans. Some of the British scientists moved in 1943, to Los Alamos to work on the American Manhattan project. For example Frisch initially worked on the isotope separation plant at Kellex, New York, and was then the head of the Critical Assembly Group at Los Alamos, and an eye-witness of the Trinity Test of an atomic bomb in July 1945.

Jack Michel never gave any detailed account of his secret war-time work, but was engaged in scientific work after the war in the National Physics Laboratory at which time he was made an OBE.

Jack Michel is in the center of the photograph taken in 1967.

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