This post have been revamped in response to a perceptive comment. The old version is available here.
In Surely Youâ€™re Joking, Mr. Feynman, American physicist Richard Feynman speculates that he may have been the only person who watched the Trinity Test relatively directly, using a windshield to exclude ultraviolet light. Everyone else, he claims, was looking through something akin to welding goggles.
This claim is contradicted in chapter 18 of Richard Rhodes’ The Making of the Atomic Bomb, in which Rhodes claims that Ernest Lawrence considered watching the test through a windshield, but decided to step out of the car and watch it directly, and that Robert Serber also watched with unprotected eyes.
Feynman does come up a few times in Rhodes’ Pulitzer Prize-winning book. He is quoted on the limitations of human understanding (p.32-33 paperback), the boundaries of science (35), and the status of Seth Neddermeyer‘s plutonium implosion setup in 1943 (479). The book also describes Feynman coining of the term ‘tickling the dragon’s tail’ to describe Otto Robert Frisch‘s dangerous criticality experiment (611), and fixing a shortwave radio being used during the Trinity test itself (668). In one of his books, Feynman describes how he began fixing neighbourhood radios as a small boy.
Quite possibly, people other than Feynman did watch the test without welding goggles and he never found out about it, or at least learned of it after the wrote the speculative comment in his book.