Kistiakowsky & Gordian Knot of Los Alamos’ Ski Slope


Working against the clock to build weapons that might end a long and bloody war strained life at Los Alamos but also heightened it… Mici Teller waged pointed rebellion saving the backyard trees to preserve a playground for her son. “I told the soldier in his big plow to leave me please the trees here,” one of her friends remembers her recounting, “so Paul could have shade but he said, ‘I got orders to level off everything so we can plant it,’ which made no sense as it was planted by wild nature and suits me better than dust. The soldier left, but was back next day and insisted he had more orders ‘to finish this neck of the woods.’ So I called all the ladies to the danger and we put chairs under the trees and sat on them. So what could he do? He shook his head and went away and has not come again.” Contrariwise, to clear a ski area on the hill to the west of the mesa, George Kistiakowsky wrapped the trees with half-necklaces of plastic explosive and thus noisily but efficiently cut them down. “Then we scrounged equipment to build a rope tow and it became a nice little ski slope,” he recalls. (Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb)

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