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Allan Nunn May

Allan Nunn May (2 May 1911 – 12 January 2003 was an English physicist and a confessed and convicted Soviet spy.[1]

Nunn May was the son of a brassfounder in Kings Norton, Birmingham. As a scholarship student at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he achieved a first in physics, which led to doctoral studies under Ernest Rutherford and lectureship at King's College London. He joined the Communist Party of Great Britain and was active in the Association of Scientific Workers.[1]

During World War II, he first worked on radar in Suffolk, then with Cecil Powell in Bristol on a project that attempted to use photographic methods to detect fast particles from radioactive decay. James Chadwick recruited him to a Cambridge University team working on a possible heavy water reactor. He and Chadwick were later recruited to the Manhattan Project, the successful effort to create a nuclear weapon. Within the Manhattan Project, Nunn May became part of the Tube Alloys team at Chalk River near Ottawa, Canada.[1]

Although he was no longer a member of the Communist Party by the time he was in Canada, he secretly supplied Uranium-233 and 235 to a Soviet contact. When KGB officer Igor Gouzenko defected to the West, he passed along intelligence that led to the arrests of Nunn Man and of Klaus Fuchs. Nunn May confessed to spying. On 1 May 1946, he was sentenced to 10 years hard labour. He was released in 1952. After his release, he characterized his passing Uranium isotopes to the Soviet Union as a "contribution … to the safety of mankind."

Blacklisted in Britain, Nunn May went to work in Ghana in 1961, where he conducted research in solid state physics and created a science museum.

He eventually returned to the UK; he died in Cambridge in 2003.


  1. ^ a b c Allan Nunn May, Spartacus Schoolnet. Accessed 14 November 2007.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Allan_Nunn_May". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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