Little Fooler contest

Nearly six months before the International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, to be held in August 1955, Walter Zinn writes to his Division Directors – Scientific “to place in your hands all the information I have to this moment concerning the International Conference.” He sets out how he reckoned AEC’s conference paper selection would proceed. “The lucky, or unlucky, authors so chosen will then receive notification that they are to journey to Geneva for the Conference. If this has some aspects of a Little Fooler contest, don’t blame me.”

What on earth is a Little Fooler contest? Googling gives the answer: “Every Sunday in the NY Daily News back in the 50s there was a puzzle that offered a cash prize, called the Little Fooler.” Now we know.

It is worth adding that a couple of days later, he gives them the task of preparing models of reactors to send to Geneva, stressing, “I realize this is one more task to be added to what you are already to do. Only the large stake that our country has in the success of the Conference can justify requesting you to make this added effort.”


Zinn, Walter H. 1955. Zinn to various, Feb. 23, 1955. “Reading File, February 23, 1955,” Box 118, Laboratory Director’s Reading File, 1949-1957, RG 326. NARA-GL, Chicago, Illinois.