Albert “Al” Wattenberg was an American physicist.
Wattenberg was born on April 13, 1917, in New York City. He received a B.S. from the City College of New York and an M.S. from Columbia University.
Wattenberg was working on his Ph.D. when he was invited to join Enrico Fermi’s team, first at Columbia and then at the Chicago Met Lab. He was present on December 2, 1942, when Chicago Pile-1 went critical. Wattenberg kept the famous bottle of Chianti from that day, eventually donating it to the national archives in 1980. He would go on to sign the Szilard Petition protesting the use of the atomic bomb. He would also help to found the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago to push for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
After the war, Wattenberg completed his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He then joined the Argonne National Laboratory alongside Fermi, where he helped design a uranium heavy water reactor. He later went on to teach at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at the University of Illinois.
Wattenberg died on June 27, 2007 in Urbana, Illinois.