Act I, Section 4 of Louis Slotin Sonata:


. . . (Scene bracket.

Lights up on Slotin and Graves sitting on examination tables. Graves has a thermometer in his mouth, while Dr. Louis Hempelmann takes Slotin's blood pressure.) . . .

SLOTIN: I threw up in the ambulance. I can't tell if it's the radiation or just the terror.

HEMPELMANN: Lou, I'm sure it's not the radiation. It couldn't be. Not yet anyway.

SLOTIN: No. Not yet anyway.

HEMPELMANN: Look, let's just get the facts in before we jump to any--

SLOTIN: Doc, Daghlian got half the dose I just did.


SLOTIN: You heard me. I figure I got twice Daghlian's dose-- at least: I should be dead in half the time.

(Slotin follows Hempelmann's furtive glance over to Al Graves.)

SLOTIN: Oh, Al. Jesus. Look, I'm sorry I got you into this. I probably have less... than a fifty-fifty chance but--

GRAVES: Lou, don't--

SLOTIN: But Al, I hope... I'm confident... that you have much better than that. I mean, my body alone probably blocked most--

GRAVES: Louie, come on.... It's all right. Hey, you... you knocked off the shell. You probably saved my life right there doing that. Right?

SLOTIN: Shit, Al. Who do you think you're kidding?

GRAVES: Anyway, you did what you could.


Jesus god DAMN !

SLOTIN: Al... I'm sorry.

(Dr. Hempelmann holds out two metal basins, one in front of either man.)

HEMPELMANN: Empty your pockets.

GRAVES: What for?


SLOTIN: Ah, there you go, Doc. Now you’re thinking like a scientist.

(to Graves)

Induced radioactivity. The change in our pockets, your watch, anything metal--

(Slotin pulls a pen from his shirt pocket.)

The gold on this pen-- most especially the gold-- is gonna have a high cross-section for neutron capture, and therefore induced radioactivity. The sodium and phosphorous in our bloodstreams...

Get me something to piss in, Doc. I bet it practically glows.

HEMPELMANN: All right, Lou. Just settle down. If you gotta go, we'll get you a beaker. Just... let's not-- you know-- rush things, okay?

SLOTIN: Whatever you say, Doc. You're the boss.

(He empties his pockets into the basin. Graves does the same.)

HEMPELMANN (calling offstage): Annamae!

(Nurse Annamae Dickie enters.)

DICKIE: Yes, Doctor.

(Dr. Hempelmann hands her the basins.)

HEMPELMANN: Make sure Dr. Langham gets these uh... items right away. Tell him they've been collected from the uh... Pajarito affair—-

SLOTIN: Very nice. It's got a good ring. I think it'll stick.

HEMPELMANN: If he's not up to speed on the events, tell him he needs to be and to come see me right away.

DICKIE: Very well.

HEMPELMANN: Oh, and Annamae.

DICKIE: Yes, Doctor.

HEMPELMANN: Have someone bring Dr. Slotin here a beaker for a urine sample please.

DICKIE: Of course.

(Nurse Dickie exits. Dr. Hempelmann begins to examine Slotin's hands.)

HEMPELMANN: Which one got the worst of it?

SLOTIN: The left.


SLOTIN: Not yet. It just sorta feels funny... tingly.


(Crossfade to special up on Doctor Hempelmann, reading from a clipboard.)

HEMPELMANN: Annals of Internal Medicine, February 1952. "The Acute Radiation Syndrome: A Study of Nine Cases" by Louis H. Hempelmann, et al.

Case 2. The patient, a 32-year-old unmarried man, was admitted to the hospital within an hour of the accident. He was touching the experimental assembly with his left hand when the nuclear reaction occurred. His arms and various portions of his body were exposed to widely different amounts of radiation.

(Nurse Dickie enters the spill of light. Hempelmann passes the clipboard to her, and exits.)

DICKIE (reading from the clipboard): The patient was apprehensive on admission to the hospital and complained of nausea. He had vomited once prior to this examination, and vomited again several times within the next few hours. The oral temperature was 100.2 Fahrenheit; other vital signs were within normal parameters. The hands showed no signs of injury. The heart lungs and abdomen were normal.

(A special comes up on Slotin.)

His skin was bronze from the waist up as a result of repeated exposure to the sun. He was well developed and appeared to be in excellent physical condition.

SLOTIN (to Nurse Dickie): Thank you.

DICKIE: Don't mention it.

(Nurse Dickie crosses to an examination table where Dr. Hempelmann examines Alvin Graves.)

HEMPELMANN: Case 3, a 34-year old man, was brought to the hospital within an hour of the accident. He was three feet away from the experimental assembly at the time of the nuclear reaction.

SLOTIN: Oh, Al. Jesus. Look, I'm sorry I got you into this. I probably have less... than a fifty-fifty chance but--

GRAVES: Lou, don't--

SLOTIN: But Al, I hope... I'm confident... that you have much better than that. I mean, my body alone probably blocked most--

HEMPELMANN: He was partially shielded from the radiation, so that his head, shoulders and left arm received a greater dose than the rest of his torso.

The patient was in good health before the accident.

GRAVES: Doctor, please... I-- I have wife and little girl.

HEMPELMANN: The patient was married and had one child.

DICKIE: Although he felt well on admission, the patient vomited once several hours later.

HEMPELMANN: In the course of the next 12 hours the nausea: disappeared and the patient's appetite returned.

(Lights out on Graves.)

Case 7--

(Lights up on Private Cleary.)

CLEARY: I am a security guard.

HEMPELMANN: This 21-year-old unmarried man was a well-developed, athletic appearing young man.

CLEARY: On the 21st of May 1946 I was stationed at the Pajarito Laboratory. That was only the second time I had been at Pajarito.

HEMPELMANN: The patient had never been exposed previously to ionizing radiation.

CLEARY: I stood around watching persons handling the active material, standing about six feet away from the critical assembly facing it.

HEMPELMANN: The patient was standing eight feet away from the experimental assembly at the time of the accident.

CLEARY: Our instructions are to keep in sight of all active material. When the accident occurred, I saw the blue glow and felt a heat wave.

HEMPLEMANN: His body was uniformly irradiated by a dose of total-body radiation of soft x-rays and gamma rays.

CLEARY: I knew something was wrong, when I saw the blue glow. I saw the blue glow all around the sphere uniformly, like a halo. After the accident I ran out the East door and down the ramp. Probably took me about five seconds or so.

(Lights up on Norris E. Bradbury.)

BRADBURY: Rush rush... From Bradbury, Clearcreek May 46220952. To Washington Liaison Office attention General Groves.

CLEARY: When I got to the gate, it was still locked and Mr. Kline, Cieslicki and myself were the only one's there. Mr. Kline told the MP to open the gate, but the MP said he couldn't until he'd blown his whistle. Kline told him to blow it then. He had some trouble getting his whistle out of his pocket, but when he did he opened the gate and then blew the whistle. I ran up the hill approximately 1,000 feet with the others.

BRADBURY: Following press release submitted for your approval.

CLEARY: Pretty soon Dr. Slotin and Mr. Young came out. Mr. Young called and told us to come down to the laboratory again. I just waited there until the ambulance came and stayed after the ambulance, jeep and sedan left carrying the other personnel. I was the only one left behind because, being a security guard, I had to wait to be relieved.

BRADBURY: An industrial accident occurred in which a small number of people were involved period the extent of the injuries to personnel is unknown at this time comma and no statement can be made until the investigation is completed period. The accident comma however comma was not the result of an explosion of any kind period. Paragraph the Bikini tests are proceeding according to schedule period.

(Lights out on Bradbury.)

CLEARY: There was no particular reason for my standing in the position I was at the time of the accident.

(Lights up on General Leslie Groves.)

GROVES: From WASH HQ May 46231555 to Commanding Officer Clear Creek. Confirming telecon Groves to Bradbury.

CLEARY: Our instructions in case of an accident is that the person in charge of the assemblies should tell us what the procedure is. Dr. Slotin did not have any time to tell us that.

GROVES: You will release following information colon quote--

CLEARY: I did not actually know what the material or sphere was at the time, or anything about it. I had not been told what they were going to do. No one told me anything except what I had heard from the conversations around me, but I was not sure what it meant, so I just stood by and watched what they were doing.

GROVES: A laboratory accident occurred on Tuesday afternoon in which a small number of person were injured period the seriousness of the injuries to these persons varies considerably comma but is not yet determined period. All next of kin of those seriously injured have been notified period. A thorough investigation of the causes of the accident is under way period unquote period parenthesis personal to Bradbury from Groves parenthesis in event of query about Bikini comma a statement that quote the Bikini tests are proceeding to schedule unquote is satisfactory period.

CLEARY: About a half hour after the accident Captain Whipple and his company came down to Parajito and at that same time he ordered me up to the hospital.

GROVES: In event query is made on an explosion comma a statement that quote no comma the accident was not the result of an explosion unquote is satisfactory period.

(Lights out on Groves.)

CLEARY: My relief came at that same time so I was free to go.

(Lights up on Hempelmann.)

HEMPELMANN: After the observation period the patient was sent home to rest for two weeks.

(Lights out on Cleary.)

HEMPELMANN (turning to face Slotin): Lou.

SLOTIN (turning): Yes.

HEMPELMANN: I know you're feeling relatively fine right now, but I really think it's best if you got yourself into bed as soon as possible.


(Lights out on Dr. Hempelmann and the examination portion of the stage.)

Oh... of course. Whatever you say, doc. You're the boss.

(Slotin begins stripping down to his boxers. Lights up on a hospital bed upstage. In the bed lies Harry Daghlian. As if sensing something, Slotin turns to see.) . . .