Last modified on June 28, 2020, at 23:46

Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz

This article is part of the

Manhattan Project

Ross Lomanitz (1921 - 2003) was born in Oklahoma and grew up in of Bryan, Texas. He graduated from high school at age 14. Lomanitz went on to earn his bachelor of science degree in physics from the University of Oklahoma and his doctorate in theoretical physics from Cornell University.

He attended to graduate school in the early 1940s at the University of California at Berkeley. While there, he became a protégé of the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Lomanitz worked with Oppenheimer on a new method of electromagnetic separation of isotopes. Lomanitz graduate research was cut short by service in the Army during World War II.


During the period 1942-45 Oppenheimer was responsible for the employment on the atomic bomb project of Lomanitz. Oppenheimer urged him to work on the Manhattan Project, although Oppenheimer had stated he knew Lomanitz had been very much of a "Red" when he first came to the University of California. Oppenheimer emphasized to him that he must forego all political activity if he came on to the project. In August 1943 Oppenheimer protested against the termination of his military deferment and requested that he be returned to the project after his entry into the military service.

While at the Radiation Laboratory Lomanitz was active in attempts to establish a local of the Federation of Architects, Engineers, Chemists, and Technicians (FAECT), a small white-collar CIO union.

The FBI had placed listening devices in Steve Nelson's residence, and in October 1942 overhead Lomanitz tell Nelson he was working on a highly secret weapon. Nelson indicated prior knowledge of the project and advised Lomanitz to be discrete and to consider himself an undercover member of the party.

After the war Lomanitz was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He adamantly asserted his loyalty to the United States and invoked the Fifth Amendment, and declined to name others in involved with Communist activities.

The Atomic Energy Commission Personnel Security Board (PSB) concluded in 1954 that Oppenheimer stated in 1943 he did not want anybody working on the project who was a member of the Communist Party, since "one always had a question of divided loyalty" and the discipline of the Communist Party was very severe and not compatible with complete loyalty to the project. Oppenheimer, however, did not identify former members of the Communist Party who were working on the project to appropriate authorities. The Board concluded Oppenheimer was responsible for the employment on the atom bomb project of Lomanitz and suspended Oppenheimer's security clearance.

Lomanitz then worked at several jobs, including as a railroad maintenance worker.

In 1962 he began working at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and later became a department chairman before retiring in 1991 due to cancer.