Atomic Distance

This is the tentative title for a film project structured around my grandfathers’ professional relationships to the atomic bomb, its effect on the world, and our perceptions of it. Currently under research.

The title page of Atomic Energy for Military Purposes signed by 47 people, including Oppenheimer and Leo Lavatelli.


My grandfather, Leo S. Lavatelli, was a physicist who worked on Robert R. Wilson’s isotron project team to separate U-235 at Los Alamos.

Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project. The test was conducted in the Jornada del Muerto desert about 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Socorro, New Mexico, on what was then the USAAF Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range, now part of White Sands Missile Range. The only structures originally in the vicinity were the McDonald Ranch House and its ancillary buildings, which scientists used as a laboratory for testing bomb components. A base camp was constructed, and there were 425 people present on the weekend of the test. (Wikipedia, 2021)

The DEW Line

My grandfather, Thomas Little, worked for the Bell Telephone Company. A decade after Trinity he went to live in Alaska to work on the DEW Line.

The Distant Early Warning Line, also known as the DEW Line or Early Warning Line, was a system of radar stations in the northern Arctic region of Canada, with additional stations along the north coast and Aleutian Islands of Alaska (see Project Stretchout and Project Bluegrass), in addition to the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Iceland. It was set up to detect incoming bombers of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and provide early warning of any sea-and-land invasion. (Wikipedia, 2021)
An excerpt from my grandfather’s 8mm film reels captured while working on the DEW Line