Lloyd Albert Quarterman

born: May 31, 1918.

place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Lloyd Quarterman was one of six Blacks on the Manhatten Project which produced the first Atomic bomb. In ?, he was cited by the U.S. Secretary of War for "work essential to the production of the Atomic Bomb, thereby contributing to the successful conclusion of World War II."

Quaterman worked at Columbia University, and at the Argonne National Laboratory, which he joined in 1946. At Argonne, major research and development of nuclear reactors took place. The team of scientists that Dr. Quarterman worked with developed the first nuclear reactor for the Nautilus, an atomic powered submarine. In 1947, he studied Quantum Mechanics under Enrico Fermi.

I am a bit confused: Lloyd Quarterman is usually credited wth developing the Nuclear Reactor in the 1930s. In 1930 he was 12 in 1939 he was 21. Now his schooling seems later. Quarterman had a BS (1943) from St. Augustines in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 1952 he earned an MS from Northwestern University. Contrary to myth, Quarterman did not have a Ph.D. in Physics or anything else. He received an honorary doctorate in Chemistry from his undergraduate school, St. Augustines College, in 1971.

I wish I could find more than unclear stories about Lloyd Quarterman. For five years I have had him on this web site for physicists but just recently I learned the material in the previous paragraph.

Though material on the project has been declassified, a typical quote is "His official title was an assistant to an associate research scientist and chemist. It is not known what his exact duties were because those who worked on the Manhattan Project were sworn to secrecy. In 1945 when W.W.II ended, Quarterman was recognized with a certificate from the US War Department for helping to bring the war to an end."

Here is a sample of that which appears on many websites.

Dr. Lloyd Quarterman was one of the African American nuclear scientists involved in the production of the atomic bomb. He worked with two of the most illustrious scientific minds of the twentieth century-Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi.
Dr. Quarterman worked at two of the major laboratories concerned with nuclear research, located at Columbia University in New York City and at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, Illinois.
While he was at Columbia University, he worked with many of the world's leading scientists, including Einstein. He was also involved in the the top-secret Manhattan Project, which was aimed at developing an atomic bomb. When the Manhattan project was officially closed, Quarterman received a certificate of recognition for "work essential to the production of the Atomic Bomb, thereby contributing to the successful conclusion of World War II."
After the war, the hitherto secret facility at the University of Chicago officially became the Argonne National Laboratories. It was at Argonne that Quarterman worked with Enrico Fermi, where he recalls: "We split the atom in the East. We were working there on the Atomic Bomb. But the world's first nuclear reactor, which used the atomic splitting process in a peaceful way, was set up here in Chicago. It was under an Italian scientist, Enrico Fermi... I did all my quantum mechanics under him."
Argonne was the center for the design and development of nuclear reactors. Quarterman worked as a member of a team of scientists, contributing to the first full-scale use of controlled nuclear energy. At Argonne, they made the first reactor for Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine.
Not contented to rest on his laurels, Quarterman augmented his knowledge of chemistry and physics and also worked as a fluoride chemist. Working with a team that "led the world in fluoride chemistry," they created new compounds or, as he puts it, "invent[ed] molecules" from the reaction of fluorine atoms with "noble" gases (so called because they stood on their own)-xenon, argon and krypton.
Quarterman was also involved in spectroscopy. He devised a corrosive-resistant "diamond window" to study the complex molecular structure of hydrogen fluoride, the world's most powerful solvent. Modestly, he chose not to call it an invention, but "a first discovery trial."
He had also given some serious thought to "synthetic blood" but he stated that "[his] process never got off the ground... [as he] ran into socio-political problems."
from http://purpleplanetmedia.com/bhp/pages/lquarterman.shtml

references: Van Sertima, Ivan. (1984). Dr. Lloyd Quarterman-Nuclear Scientist. Ed. Ivan Van Sertima. New Brunswick (U.S.A.): Transaction Books. 266-272.; Black Futurists 89-90; http://www.ceemast.csupomona.edu/nova/quart.html.

VISITORS since opening 5/27/1997

back to front page of Physicists of the African Diaspora

This website was created by and is maintained by
Dr. Scott Williams, Professor of Mathematics
State University of New York at Buffalo

SEARCH the site

CONTACT Dr. Williams