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Exapno Mapcase
08-10-2016, 12:56 PM
Every older f&sf buff knows about Cleve Cartmill's story "Deadline," published in the March 1944 Astounding Science Fiction. The details about making an atomic bomb spooked the Office of Censorship, which launched an investigation. Everybody they talked to insisted that the details were thoroughly public and had been for years so no further action was taken.

Here's the point I can't pin down. Supposedly, Campbell later bragged that he already knew that an atomic project was being conducted because so many of his subscribers had filed a change of address to Los Alamos, NM. And they did read Astounding at Los Alamos: Edward Teller says so.

But the story has all the earmarks of an urban legend. Nobody at Los Alamos had a mailing address there. Nobody was supposed to even mention the name Los Alamos. They used a mail box number in Santa Fe. Sometimes, therefore, the story changes to includes Oak Ridge, TN, and Hanford, WA, the uranium processing site. Sometimes a detail is added that Campbell had a map of subscribers with pins marking their location. The map was visible when the FBI came to talk to him, even. Since Astounding probably had 100,000 subscribers, this too is beyond belief.

Wiki has this tidbit, but its unsourced. In fact, it's unsourced everywhere I find it.

Anyone know of a good source?

While I'm at it, anybody know what the circulation of Astounding was in those days? I'm sure I've seen figures but I can't find any.

WordMan
08-10-2016, 01:17 PM
I can add nothing, sorry, but I want to say I had never heard this and find the anecdote fascinating. It would be great to see if it checks out. Thank you for starting a thread on it and hopefully other Dopers can be more helpful than my rooting from the sidelines.

TriPolar
08-10-2016, 01:23 PM
I see references to a Gregory Benford essay "Old Legends". Haven't found that essay yet, it seems to be referenced in Greg Bear's New Legends.

Here's earlier text from the Deadline wiki:
By March 8 it had come to the attention of the Counter-Intelligence Corps, who saw many similarities between the technical details in the story and the research currently being undertaken in great secrecy at [[Los Alamos National Laboratory|Los Alamos]]. [[Gregory Benford]] describes the incident as told him by [[Edward Teller]] in his autobiographical essay [http://www.gwern.net/docs/2002-radiance#old-legends "Old Legends"]:

There may be no connection to that and Campbell's claim.

Voyager
08-10-2016, 01:51 PM
Here's the point I can't pin down. Supposedly, Campbell later bragged that he already knew that an atomic project was being conducted because so many of his subscribers had filed a change of address to Los Alamos, NM. And they did read Astounding at Los Alamos: Edward Teller says so.

But the story has all the earmarks of an urban legend. Nobody at Los Alamos had a mailing address there. Nobody was supposed to even mention the name Los Alamos. They used a mail box number in Santa Fe. Sometimes, therefore, the story changes to includes Oak Ridge, TN, and Hanford, WA, the uranium processing site. Sometimes a detail is added that Campbell had a map of subscribers with pins marking their location. The map was visible when the FBI came to talk to him, even. Since Astounding probably had 100,000 subscribers, this too is beyond belief.

Wiki has this tidbit, but its unsourced. In fact, it's unsourced everywhere I find it.

Anyone know of a good source?

While I'm at it, anybody know what the circulation of Astounding was in those days? I'm sure I've seen figures but I can't find any.
They wouldn't have to notice this among subscribers, but only among address changes. Which were done manually in those days. Santa Fe or Los Alamos, New Mexico was not the center of science back then, and it seems plausible that someone in the subscription department mentioned how weird it was to get all these changes for some place in the middle of nowhere.

And Campbell was not the only one. Feynman once said that the stationmaster in the Princeton Junction train station knew that something was going on since he sold a bunch of one way tickets to New Mexico to Princeton students and faculty - something not common before the war.

TriPolar
08-10-2016, 01:56 PM
The change-of-address story is mentioned in a comment on this website for The worst of the Manhattan Project leaks. (http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2013/09/20/worst-manhattan-project-leaks/)

In 1943, John W. Campbell, the editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, gave information on uranium fission, derived entirely from unclassified sources, to the writer Cleve Cartmill, whose story “Deadline” was published in March 1944. Campbell also deduced by looking at the magazine’s change-of-address data that some sort of highly secret technical project was going on at Los Alamos. It wouldn’t be surprising if he put the two facts together, though he told no one.

There's a link to his web page in the comment if you want to try and ask him where he got this.

sleestak
08-10-2016, 01:59 PM
They wouldn't have to notice this among subscribers, but only among address changes. Which were done manually in those days. Santa Fe or Los Alamos, New Mexico was not the center of science back then, and it seems plausible that someone in the subscription department mentioned how weird it was to get all these changes for some place in the middle of nowhere.

And Campbell was not the only one. Feynman once said that the stationmaster in the Princeton Junction train station knew that something was going on since he sold a bunch of one way tickets to New Mexico to Princeton students and faculty - something not common before the war.

Actually, on the Feynman part, the other scientists left from different stations but all the equipment was shipped from Princeton. When Feynman showed up at the Princeton station the stationmaster said 'Oh, all the equipment is for you....'.

We were told to be very careful - not to buy our train ticket in Princeton, for example, because Princeton was a very small station, and if everybody bought train tickets to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in Princeton, there would be some suspicions that something was up. And so everybody bought their tickets somewhere else, except me, because I figured if everybody bought their tickets somewhere else. . .

So when I went to the train station and said, “I want to go to Albuquerque, New Mexico, “ the man says, “Oh, so all this stuff is for you!" We had been shipping out crates full of counters for weeks and expecting that they didn't notice the address was Albuquerque. So at least I explained why it was that we were shipping all those crates; I was going out to Albuquerque.

Link (http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/34/3/FeynmanLosAlamos.htm).

So, yeah, it seems totally plausible.

Slee

TriPolar
08-10-2016, 02:08 PM
The change-of-address story is mentioned in a comment on this website for The worst of the Manhattan Project leaks. (http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2013/09/20/worst-manhattan-project-leaks/)

There's a link to his web page in the comment if you want to try and ask him where he got this.

(Missed the edit window) That comment was made prior to the change to the wiki, and could even be the source.

Exapno Mapcase
08-10-2016, 02:58 PM
I can add nothing, sorry, but I want to say I had never heard this and find the anecdote fascinating. It would be great to see if it checks out. Thank you for starting a thread on it and hopefully other Dopers can be more helpful than my rooting from the sidelines.

There are two major sources on "Deadline" both using materials gathered under the FOIA. Alfred I. Berger, The Astounding Investigation, Analog Sept. 1984 (http://www.gwern.net/docs/1984-berger.pdf) and Robert Silverberg, The Cleve Cartmill Affair, Asimov's September and October 2003. Everybody else uses them. Neither mention the Campbell deduction. I can't figure out where that came from, although the anecdote is extremely well known, as shown in the comment TriPower linked to. It can't be the source: the anecdote has been around for decades.

The next best source is Patrick S. Washburn, “The Office of Censorship’s Attempt to Control Press Coverage of the Atomic Bomb During World War II,” Journalism Monographs 120 (1990), based on an earlier oral paper, which lists literally dozens of incidents over the course of the war, including "Deadline." There's an entire book on the Office of Censorship, Secrets of Victory by Michael S. Sweeney, that doesn't bother to mention "Deadline."

There were three other atomic war stories that got investigated. None were in a standard science fiction magazine or written by a member of the sf community, so none has gotten the obsessive attention that "Deadline" received. I'm pulling them all together into an article for the first time anywhere. The line from Campbell is just color commentary but I never use any detail that can't be properly sourced.

TriPolar
08-10-2016, 04:10 PM
It's been fun searching on this. Here's another comment that mentions the map pins (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/soc.history.what-if/B2Pe4GmTJkE/LHbuwnOXMAUJ):

Not to argue with your main point, but I've heard the story about
Campbell noticing the subscribers in Los Alamos several times and
I'd be interested in knowing whether it is true. I've heard this
separately from the FBI-visit story Richard describes. Allegedly
Campbell had a pin-map of subscribers on the wall, and could spot
the concentrations in Hanford, Oak Ridge, and Los Alamos...

It also comes up in stuff about the Pentagon Pizza (http://yarchive.net/risks/pentagon_pizza.html) theory that we are preparing for war if a lot of pizzas are ordered from the Pentagon.
This sort of thing is not new. During WW2, John Campbell -- editor of
Astounding Science Fiction and essentially the founder of modern SF --
apparently had a wall map with colored pins showing the distribution of A.S.F.
sales. He found it interesting that A.S.F. sold many copies in obscure places
like Oak Ridge and Los Alamos, where there wasn't supposed to be anything
noteworthy going on...

Seems to me if Campbell did make the claim it would be included in all the detailed articles about the Deadline incident. Sounds more like a Chuck Norris type joke about Campbell.

Voyager
08-10-2016, 04:27 PM
Actually, on the Feynman part, the other scientists left from different stations but all the equipment was shipped from Princeton. When Feynman showed up at the Princeton station the stationmaster said 'Oh, all the equipment is for you....'.

Link (http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/34/3/FeynmanLosAlamos.htm).

So, yeah, it seems totally plausible.

Slee

Thanks. I misremembered. I used to live in Princeton so this one really got me.

Andy L
08-10-2016, 04:35 PM
Every older f&sf buff knows about Cleve Cartmill's story "Deadline," published in the March 1944 Astounding Science Fiction. The details about making an atomic bomb spooked the Office of Censorship, which launched an investigation. Everybody they talked to insisted that the details were thoroughly public and had been for years so no further action was taken.

Here's the point I can't pin down. Supposedly, Campbell later bragged that he already knew that an atomic project was being conducted because so many of his subscribers had filed a change of address to Los Alamos, NM. And they did read Astounding at Los Alamos: Edward Teller says so.

But the story has all the earmarks of an urban legend. Nobody at Los Alamos had a mailing address there. Nobody was supposed to even mention the name Los Alamos. They used a mail box number in Santa Fe. Sometimes, therefore, the story changes to includes Oak Ridge, TN, and Hanford, WA, the uranium processing site. Sometimes a detail is added that Campbell had a map of subscribers with pins marking their location. The map was visible when the FBI came to talk to him, even. Since Astounding probably had 100,000 subscribers, this too is beyond belief.

Wiki has this tidbit, but its unsourced. In fact, it's unsourced everywhere I find it.

Anyone know of a good source?

While I'm at it, anybody know what the circulation of Astounding was in those days? I'm sure I've seen figures but I can't find any.

In Asimov's 1974 lecture at Johns Hopkins University, he mentioned this story and the Cleve Cartmill tale, but Asimov had no direct knowledge of either story (obviously he had the story from Campbell), and as I recall, Asimov even expressed a little doubt about the change of address story, though he clearly enjoyed telling it (here's a link http://www.sffaudio.com/the-time-traveler-show-podcast-10-asimov-on-utopian-change/ to a description of the lecture - unfortunately, it's not online anymore as far as I know).

If you look at late '40s fanzines online, you might find an early version of Campbell's change of address story there.


P.S.

This link by the way (http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2014/03/07/death-dust-1941/) talks about Campbell's article in 1941 called "Is Death Dust America's Secret Weapon?"

Exapno Mapcase
08-10-2016, 04:43 PM
In Asimov's 1974 lecture at Johns Hopkins University, he mentioned this story and the Cleve Cartmill tale, but Asimov had no direct knowledge of either story (obviously he had the story from Campbell), and as I recall, Asimov even expressed a little doubt about the change of address story, though he clearly enjoyed telling it (here's a link http://www.sffaudio.com/the-time-traveler-show-podcast-10-asimov-on-utopian-change/ to a description of the lecture - unfortunately, it's not online anymore as far as I know).
Yeah, everybody knows the story so nobody tries to source it. Asimov doesn't mention Cartmill or Los Alamos in his autobiography.

If you look at late '40s fanzines online, you might find an early version of Campbell's change of address story there.
I checked efanzines.com and found nothing.

P.S.

This link by the way (http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2014/03/07/death-dust-1941/) talks about Campbell's article in 1941 called "Is Death Dust America's Secret Weapon?"
That's pre-war, of course. Zillions of atomic-related stories and articles appeared up until Dec. 1941. You could fill a book just with a listing of them. That's what makes it so utterly amazing that the country and the world was so completely taken by surprise at Hiroshima. The government pressure to not say the words, even though frequently broken, worked a miracle of forgetfulness in only three and-a-half years.

Andy L
08-10-2016, 04:56 PM
Yeah, everybody knows the story so nobody tries to source it. Asimov doesn't mention Cartmill or Los Alamos in his autobiography.

Yep. It's a shame.


I checked efanzines.com and found nothing.

Yeah. The closest I found is an article from the New Republic abridged here http://efanzines.com/FR/fr15.htm, by the editor of the Oak Ridge Journal (the inhouse newspaper at Oak Ridge) about why SF is popular - and all that does is confirm that SF was read at Oak Ridge, which isn't much help. It's probably decades too late to get real confirmation, unfortunately.


That's pre-war, of course. Zillions of atomic-related stories and articles appeared up until Dec. 1941. You could fill a book just with a listing of them. That's what makes it so utterly amazing that the country and the world was so completely taken by surprise at Hiroshima. The government pressure to not say the words, even though frequently broken, worked a miracle of forgetfulness in only three and-a-half years.

I suspect people were surprised not because of any government censorship, but because the number of people who took Sunday supplement articles and SF stories seriously was very small - and the set of those people who did take it seriously did not include any people with any influence (except for those people who were actually doing the work, of course).

Andy L
08-10-2016, 05:33 PM
Every older f&sf buff knows about Cleve Cartmill's story "Deadline," published in the March 1944 Astounding Science Fiction. The details about making an atomic bomb spooked the Office of Censorship, which launched an investigation. Everybody they talked to insisted that the details were thoroughly public and had been for years so no further action was taken.

Here's the point I can't pin down. Supposedly, Campbell later bragged that he already knew that an atomic project was being conducted because so many of his subscribers had filed a change of address to Los Alamos, NM. And they did read Astounding at Los Alamos: Edward Teller says so.

But the story has all the earmarks of an urban legend. Nobody at Los Alamos had a mailing address there. Nobody was supposed to even mention the name Los Alamos. They used a mail box number in Santa Fe. Sometimes, therefore, the story changes to includes Oak Ridge, TN, and Hanford, WA, the uranium processing site. Sometimes a detail is added that Campbell had a map of subscribers with pins marking their location. The map was visible when the FBI came to talk to him, even. Since Astounding probably had 100,000 subscribers, this too is beyond belief.

Wiki has this tidbit, but its unsourced. In fact, it's unsourced everywhere I find it.

Anyone know of a good source?

While I'm at it, anybody know what the circulation of Astounding was in those days? I'm sure I've seen figures but I can't find any.

Meant to mention - as I recall, Asimov doesn't say anything about subscribers; he talks about the distribution of magazines to newstands (etc.). If I recall correctly, he said that before the war, Astounding would have the largest number of orders from NYC, the second highest from Boston, and so on, down the list of metropolitan markets, but during the war, NYC and Boston were 2nd and third to Oak Ridge. More plausible than "change of address" notices, perhaps.

Exapno Mapcase
08-10-2016, 05:41 PM
Meant to mention - as I recall, Asimov doesn't say anything about subscribers; he talks about the distribution of magazines to newstands (etc.). If I recall correctly, he said that before the war, Astounding would have the largest number of orders from NYC, the second highest from Boston, and so on, down the list of metropolitan markets, but during the war, NYC and Boston were 2nd and third to Oak Ridge. More plausible than "change of address" notices, perhaps.

Oak Ridge doesn't show up in a search of In Memory Yet Green or I, Asimov. Neither does Los Alamos. Cartmill gets a sentence in I, Asimov about "Deadmill," but all it says is, this happened.

Andy L
08-10-2016, 05:42 PM
And by googling newsstand, Oak Ridge and Astounding, I find this cite from 1949 from the Saturday Review of Literature

https://books.google.com/books?id=xWo5AQAAIAAJ&q=astounding+newsstand+%22oak+ridge%22&dq=astounding+newsstand+%22oak+ridge%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiG_5XQ5rfOAhVH4SYKHWwKBL4Q6AEIIDAB

Putting together snippets, I get "WHEN the March 1944 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction hit the newsstands near our big wartime weapons research centers, sales were brisk as usual. But many of the magazine's regular readers, among them technicians ... Astounding owes its leadership in the science-fiction field to its editor, who, trained as a scientist, strives to put out a magazine that will amuse and stimulate scientists. Many of the names on its subscription list, as well as exceptionally large newsstand sales at Oak Ridge..."

Exapno Mapcase
08-10-2016, 06:13 PM
"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is."

Now replace space with "research" and big with "hard."

Andy L
08-10-2016, 07:15 PM
Meant to mention - as I recall, Asimov doesn't say anything about subscribers; he talks about the distribution of magazines to newstands (etc.). If I recall correctly, he said that before the war, Astounding would have the largest number of orders from NYC, the second highest from Boston, and so on, down the list of metropolitan markets, but during the war, NYC and Boston were 2nd and third to Oak Ridge. More plausible than "change of address" notices, perhaps.


The SF Oral History Association has the Asimov talk available at Michigan University http://sfoha.org/catalog/msu.html

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is."

Now replace space with "research" and big with "hard."

Agreed.

Andy L
08-10-2016, 07:37 PM
Another link to the "subscription area" version of the story https://books.google.com/books?id=8WU_MXC99yYC&pg=PA365&dq=campbell+astounding+%22oak+ridge%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjn-eqP_7fOAhUJLSYKHaoUAqsQ6AEIMjAE#v=onepage&q=campbell%20astounding%20%22oak%20ridge%22&f=false

Have you had the chance to check "The Collected Letters of John W. Campbell" or "The Collected Editorials of JWC" (the Google Book scans aren't very helpful unfortunately)?

One more - The MIT "Tech Engineering News" in 1949 writes: "... pharmacy sells more copies of Astounding Science Fiction Magazine than any other establishment (except a drugstore at atom-town Oak Ridge), editor John Campbell, Jr., an alumnus of M. I. T., was invited to tell an eager throng of Techmen..." (https://books.google.com/books?id=7e4RAQAAMAAJ&q=pharmacy+campbell+astounding+oak+ridge&dq=pharmacy+campbell+astounding+oak+ridge&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj9wJKWgrjOAhWGJiYKHQ2qDMkQ6AEIHDAA) so it sounds like Campbell was telling this story fairly early on.

Exapno Mapcase
08-10-2016, 08:37 PM
Technically, all it says is that after the war Campbell could boast about his readers. Unfortunately it doesn't say anything about what he knew during the war.

I don't have access to the Campbell books, but I did contact a guy who's doing a book on Campbell. He thinks that the anecdote is apocryphal because he's never been able to pin down any evidence for it.

Andy L
11-29-2016, 07:16 AM
I ran across one other potential reference - in August 1945, Campbell was interviewed by the New Yorker magazine about the atomic bomb and related subjects http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1945/08/25/1945-cassandra

The interview starts:

""Astounding" has for the past 10 years or so predicted atomic bombs and using them to liven up its stories. The magazine got a notice of censorship on atomic energy, but Mr. Campbell wrote back that atomic bombs had been their stock in trade for years and it would look suspicious if they suddenly dropped the subject. The Army thought so, too. Mr. Campbell, a physicist and a former M. I. T. student, would like his publication to be taken seriously. His magazine is currently featuring a series of stories on post-atomic-bomb-war conditions. He discussed the next war and made some dire predictions."

Unfortunately, I don't have a subscription to the magazine so I can't see the rest of the interview, but it certainly seems like a place Campbell would have boasted of his readership at Los Alamos or Oakridge if it were true.

Exapno Mapcase
11-29-2016, 11:00 AM
I've got the article, a very short one. Campbell talks about the horrors of atomic war. He doesn't even mention the "Deadline" investigation. There's nothing useful there.

Andy L
11-29-2016, 11:18 AM
I've got the article, a very short one. Campbell talks about the horrors of atomic war. He doesn't even mention the "Deadline" investigation. There's nothing useful there.

Sorry it wasn't more helpful.

Exapno Mapcase
11-29-2016, 11:49 AM
Sorry it wasn't more helpful.

Well, it forced me to dig it out of an old folder and move it into a current working one, along with other old stuff, so in fact it was helpful in a sidewards way.

DrDeth
11-29-2016, 01:22 PM
Yeah, it's 20/20 hindsight. Look it was in the middle of WordWarFreakenTwo. Scientists and techs and experts and soldiers were being shipped willynilly everywhere for thousands of Top Secret projects.

Yes, the Project as a whole was pretty big. But the Project was also split over a dozen+ sites.

http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2013/11/01/many-people-worked-manhattan-project/