The creation of the atomic bomb is deeply rooted in New Mexico.
It’s a story that has multiple facets.
Enter John Webb.
The producer worked for years in capturing the story of Raemer Schreiber.
The result is the film “The Half-Life of Genius.” The film will screen at Reel Deal Theater in Los Alamos at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 14.
Schreiber was one of Robert Oppenheimer’s young physicists recruited for the Manhattan Project during World War II.
He was entrusted to carry the plutonium core to Tinian Island, where he would assemble the atomic bomb known as Fat Man.
In the mid-1950s, he was selected to lead the American effort to build nuclear rocket engines in the Nevada desert.
Webb has been a fan of the Manhattan Project and got the idea when WGN America began filming the TV series “Manhattan.”
“I watched the TV show and had to remember that it didn’t totally follow all of history,” he says. “That gave me the idea to go behind the scenes, and that’s when I found Raemer.”
The film contains rare footage, artifacts, photos and audio recordings not seen or heard outside of family for decades.
Then while doing research for the film, Schreiber’s daughter gave Webb a cassette.
“It was made in 1974 and it’s been in the family,” he says. “A lot of this tape had never been heard outside of the family. A lot of that made it into the film. It adds another element not heard before.”
Because the film is an independent project, Webb put a lot of his own money into it.
He hopes that viewers will hear a story that hasn’t been told much before.
“It’s great to get the film out in front of people,” he says.
Webb was also able to get interviews with historians and other nuclear physicists.
In fact, the documentary includes interviews with Los Alamos historian Roger Meade and Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Rhodes, as well as nuclear physicist Taylor Wilson and nuclear engineer Carl Willis, who discuss Schreiber’s work on Project Rover.
“Rhodes was a major coup for me,” he says. “The whole time, I knew I was onto something that people would want to see. Everything fell together and now the movie is out.”
The screening is in conjunction with “ScienceFest” in Los Alamos. The video will be available digitally on Tuesday, July 17.