What Was It? The Manhattan Project was a secret military project created in 1942 to produce the first US nuclear weapon.
Who Was In Charge? US physicist Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie R. Groves served as directors of this project Others involved include:
David Bohm, Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, Rudolf Peierls, Otto Frisch, Niels Bohr, Felix Bloch, James Franck, James Chadwick, Emilio Segre, Enrico Fermi, Klaus Fuchs and Edward Teller, and Albert Einstein.
Robert Oppenheimer General Leslie R. Groves
How It Started Although the Manhattan Project started in 1942, in 1939 three Jewish scientists, Albert Einstein, Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner had escaped to the US from Nazi Germany where they sent a letter to President Roosevelt stating the Germans were working on the possibility of using uranium to produce nuclear weapons.
Albert Einstein Franklin Roosevelt
Continued Three main research and production facilities were established at Oak Ridge, Tennessee; at Hanford, Washington; and at Los Alamos, New Mexico. The Oak Ridge Laboratories provided uranium-235 and Hanford produced weapons-grade plutonium. The Los Alamos Laboratory became the site for assembling nuclear weapons.
The first three completed bombs were successfully tested at Alamogordo, New Mexico on 16th July, 1945. By the time the atom bomb was ready to be used Germany had surrendered. Leo Szilard and James Franck drafted a petition signed by about 70 scientists opposed to the use of the bomb on moral grounds. However, the advice was ignored by Harry S. Truman, the USA's new president, and he decided to use the bomb on Japan.
The first nuclear explosion in history took place at the Jornadadel Muerto (Journey of Death) desert. The test was named Trinity. This design, embodied in the test device called Gadget, involved a new technology that could not be adequately evaluated without a full scale test. The gun-type uranium bomb, in contrast, was certain to be effective and did not merit testing. Since no nuclear explosion had ever occurred on Earth, it seemed smart that at least one should be set off with careful monitoring to test whether all of the theoretical predictions held.
The Trinity test success led to the creation of two more atomic bombs that were used during WW2. In 1945, the US dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The first on August 6th, 1945 and the second on August 9th. The bombs were called “Fat Man” and “Little Boy”.
Little Boy Fat Man
"Little Boy's" explosion resulted in 66,000 instantaneous deaths. Total vaporization from the blast measured one half a mile in diameter. Total destruction ranged one mile in diameter and serious blazes extended as far as three miles in diameter. "Fat Man" weighed 10,000 lbsand destroyed nearly half of the city. In one split-second, the population of Nagasaki dropped from 422,000 to 383,000. As astonishing as this seems, scientist estimate that both "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" only utilized 1/10th of 1 percent of their explosive capabilities.
Not all by-products of the atomic bomb have been negative. Through the atom bomb, scientist have discovered how to harness the power of nuclear energy. Nuclear power plants are far more efficient than traditional power plants. The medical field has also taken advantage of the atomic bomb. Technology used in the atomic bomb is also used for CAT scans and chemotherapy.
On 14th August the Japanese surrendered. The Second World War was over. The Manhattan Project officially ended in 1946 when it became part of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The decision to drop the atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is still one of the most controversial issues today.
Soon after the Manhattan Project became a success, the Soviet Union developed their own atomic bomb. First these weapons were attached to bombers, but soon space-based systems were developed. These systems utilized rockets that could take a nuclear warhead from one side of the globe to another in under an hour. Since the 1950's, there has existed an amount of weaponry on earth great enough to destroy humanity. No one has used these weapons against another country since WWII because of MutallyAssured Destruction (MAD). If the US were to launch an attack against Russia, the Russians would immediately retaliate by launching their missiles, and not only would the US be destroyed, but Russia would as well.
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