The Invention of Nuclear Weapons

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PowerPoint of the Manhattan Project and the creation of atomic bombs.

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The Invention of Nuclear Weapons

  1. 1. The Manhattan Project The discovery of atomic weapons during WWII
  2. 2. How does a nuclear weapon work? • It starts with the process of fission… – 1934: Enrico Fermi – Dec. 1938: Otto Hahn, Fritz Strassmann, and Lise Meitner in Germany
  3. 3. What is fission???
  4. 4. Brief Overview: The Makeup of an Atom • Protons, Neutrons, Electrons
  5. 5. Fission The splitting of heavy nuclei
  6. 6. A Chain Reaction Occurs…
  7. 7. The Germans had split the atom! • 1939: Leo Szilard • Was an atomic bomb possible? • Recruiting Albert Einstein…
  8. 8. Einstein’s Letter to FDR • Why did Einstein “write” this letter? • What is the new phenomenon that he talks about? • What resource is needed to create this? • What does Einstein suggest that the government do? • What is the significance of Germany’s halt of uranium sales from Czech?
  9. 9. FDR’s Response • Created a scientific committee to research the technology • New research convinced FDR to launch the Manhattan Project
  10. 10. The Manhattan Project • General Leslie R. Groves became the director in 1942 • Told his team to find targets for the bomb
  11. 11. Robert Oppenheimer • 1941: Asked to calculate the critical mass of U-235 • Named scientific director of the Manhattan Project • 5,000 on staff • Set up a research station at Los Alamos, New Mexico
  12. 12. University of Chicago • Here the world’s first nuclear reactor was built.
  13. 13. Uranium v. Plutonium • Uranium: less dangerous to handle, very difficult to extract enriched uranium, fairly easy to make the bomb • Plutonium: very dangerous, easy to extract, bomb would need more engineering • Pieces of plutonium are so radioactive they feel warm to the touch
  14. 14. How the first nuclear weapon worked… Gun-type assembly
  15. 15. July 16, 1945 - Trinity Test
  16. 16. Oppenheimer - “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” a line from the Hindu holy text, the Bhagavad-Gita
  17. 17. “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” Aug. 6, 1945 - Hiroshima uranium Aug. 9, 1945 - Nagasaki plutonium

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