The MSU Cyclotron Lab’s Own Hidden Figure: Prof. Thelma Irene Arnette and “The Bomb”

Professor Thelma Irene Arnette (1920-2017) was the third person hired (the first two were Prof. Henry Blosser and Prof. Morton Gordon) to design the first cyclotron (the “K50”) at Michigan State University around 1960. She would go on to become an Assistant Professor of Physics in 1962 and earned tenure at MSU in 1967 in the Department of Physics and Astronomy without ever having earned an official degree in Physics. Prior to coming to MSU, she and her sister, Mary Ruth, were 2 of ~300 women that performed scientific and technical work on the Manhattan Project during WWII according to the book “Their Day in the Sun: Women of the Manhattan Project” by Dr. Ruth H. Howes and Dr. Caroline C. Herzenberg. Prof. Arnette then performed a variety of experimental, mathematical, and computational tasks, now declassified, at Oak Ridge National Lab before being recruited to MSU’s Cyclotron Project. I will be presented on Prof. Arnette’s time at Oak Ridge, specifically placing her scientific contributions in context. The recorded talk is here on MSU Mediaspace.