For some reason I do not fear the Atom Bomb era that is with the world. There are and will be I am confident, still enough good men and women in this world to control properly the various advancements of men.
So wrote Smithsonian scientist Leonard P. Schultz on July 8th, 1946, from the U.S.S. Bowditch, the ship on which he had witnessed—one week earlier—the U.S. government’s detonation of an atomic bomb over the remote Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. Schultz was one of two Smithsonian scientists who formed part of Operation Crossroads, the beginning of a program of nuclear testing that stretched into the late 1950s.
Leonard P. Schultz and Joseph P.E. Morrison were curators and seasoned field collectors at the U.S. National Museum (today called the National Museum of Natural History) in Washington, when, on January 28, 1946, the U. S. Navy asked the Smithsonian to send experts to the Marshall Islands—part of a team of botanists, zoologists, geologists, and oceanographers from universities, oceanographic institutes, and government research bureaus. After two weeks of hurried preparations, Schultz and Morrison left Washington, D.C., for California, where they joined the U.S.S. Bowditch.
The participation of Smithsonian scientists on military expeditions was not new. Indeed, Shultz had been on the 1937 U. S. Navy Expedition to the Phoenix Islands, and Waldo Schmitt had been assigned to the 1941 and 1942 Navy expeditions to the Galapagos. However, the size and scope of the Bikini surveys far exceeded any earlier Smithsonian/military cooperative projects.
Text courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution