Gladys Owens was just 19 years of age when she arrived to work in the town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It was 1945 and she was to spend 8 months working there as a technician on the Manhattan Project. Gladys would become one of the “Calutron Girls” whose role, though none of them knew it at the time, was key to the building of the first atomic bomb.
Technicians who work a physics related field
Otto Baumbach (1882-1966) was a glass blower whose work in Manchester was vital to Nobel Laureate Ernest Rutherford.
Irène Curie (1897-1956) was the daughter of Pierre and Marie Curie. Hers was a glittering scientific career that started when she was an X-ray radiographer in WW1.
Clarence Dally: a technician in trouble
Clarence Dally (1865-1904) was a glass blower and assistant to Edison in his work on X-rays. His was one of the first deaths attributed to the effects of X-rays.
Michael Faraday (1791-1867) apprenticed to a book binder aged 14 he went on to become an assistant to Humphry Davy and eventually one of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time.
Freda Collier (1916-2013) worked with Rosalind Franklin as her x-ray photographer and most likely took the famous “photo 51”, an image that inspired the solution to the structure of DNA.
William Coates (1919-1993) was awarded the Bragg Medal in 1975 and made an MBE in 1980. He was also technician to Lawrence Bragg and became lecture assistant at the Royal Institution (1948-1986).
Denis Papin – a technician under pressure
Denis Papin (1647-1712) fleeing religious persecution in France he found work in London with Robert Boyle and at the Royal Society. He is the forgotten inventor of the pressure cooker and the first practical steam engine.