Scientist Nerses “Krik” Krikorian, Armenian by origin, who was one among developers of US nuclear program, died at the age of 97 Wednesday at his home in Los Alamos, AP reported.
Krikorian was born on a Turkish roadside in 1921. His parents were fleeing Armenian Genocide. They spent the next four years moving from country to country with nothing but the clothes on their backs, trying to find a permanent home.
They finally found refuge in Canada. When Krikorian was 4 years old, they moved to the United States, settling in Niagara Falls, where his father became a factory worker and his mom a homemaker, according to The Los Alamos Monitor.
He graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and began a job at Union Carbide, working in a lab that made highly enriched uranium.
It was 1943 and, unbeknownst to him, Krikorian was knee-deep in the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos.
When the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Krikorian knew then what he’d been working on. “I thought, ‘Well, the war is going to end,’” he said. “And I hope we never have to use it again for any reason.”
The move to Los Alamos proved to be a good one. It’s where he met his wife, Katherine “Pat” Patterson, who came to Los Alamos in 1943 to work on the Manhattan Project.
In the 1970s, Krikorian started working for the US intelligence. Krikorian still marvels at the fact that he, who arrived in the United States as a boy with papers that labeled him as “stateless,” could be in charge of security for a US intelligence unit.
Krikorian’s selection for the intelligence unit was also no doubt spurred by the fact that he spoke fluent Armenian and some Russian. When he was a child, his parents forced him to not only learn to speak and write Armenian, but to understand the country’s history, culture, and literature.