From Santa Fe in every direction, backroads disappear into scenes of extraordinary beauty. Driving west the road descends into the valley of the Rio Grande, crosses the mighty river and climbs towards imposing cliffs and glistening roadside minerals. Deep in the canyon in Bandelier National Monument, native people known as the Anasazi began building a community into the cliffs about 800 years ago. The Anasazi moved out of this canyon around the 1500's perhaps because of drought, perhaps to seek the more fertile ground of the Rio Grande Valley.
Just a few miles away from these windows into ancient memories, on the pine covered flanks of an old exploded volcano, is a doorway into profound and much more recent historical moments. This is Los Alamos, the atomic city. This is where the atomic bomb was created during World War II. Back then Los Alamos was built swiftly and from scratch as a remote outpost where the best scientific minds could secretly design the bomb – an endeavor called the Manhattan Project. The Bradbury Science Museum chronicles this history starting with the unlikely pairing of the two men who led the Manhattan Project, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the military commander, General Leslie Groves.
These days scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory are working on everything from environmental problems to metal hardening technologies to mapping the chromosomes in the human body. The Bradbury Museum interprets the long and fascinating story of Los Alamos, from its current research to the origins of the bomb.