The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project was and is still one of the most secretive projects ever created in United States history. The purpose of the Manhattan Project was simple: to build; test; and unleash its power if necessary. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves were the two men put in charge of this mission. These two men along with the top scientists from around the country were brought together to construct the most deadliest thing known to man. The project originated in the Pentagon in 1942 when General Groves was told, by the White House, he was to lead the Manhattan Project.

World War II had already been raged for three years when the Nazis, after being victorious in Europe, declared war on the United States. This was nine months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In September of that year, Groves, met with Leo Szilard and asked him if making the atomic bomb was possible. Leo told him how an atomic bomb would work, but also that it is impossible to build. General Groves only wanted to hear that an atomic bomb was conceivable in theory and then he knew to start the project.

In October of 1942 Groves went to California to meet with Robert Oppenheimer, one of the most brilliant scientists in the country. Groves informed Oppenheimer that he had been selected to lead the expedition on trying to invent the atomic bomb. Oppenheimer immediately started preparing by telling Groves that they needed an isolated area with one ringmaster(Oppenheimer). General Groves was in charge of the military or security part of the project, while Oppenheimer was in charge of the organization of the scientists and ideas. At times, Oppenhiemer and Grooves had some nasty arguments over policies.

Even though Groves was the one who reported to Washington, Oppenheimer had more power and Groves was aware of this. If they had a disagreement, Oppenheimer would threaten to leave the project and take his scientists with him. Groves knew if this occurred then the project would never be finished. So, Grooves most always ended up agreeing or letting Oppenheimer do what ever he wanted to do. In April of 1943, this isolated area was being build in Las Alamos, New Mexico. The borders consisted of barbed wire fence accompanied by guard dogs.

Many laboratories, storage buildings, shelters, hospitals, dining halls, and other buildings were found inside these borders, also. One thing that was not found inside these borders though was women, not even wives of the scientists. No scientist was allowed to talk to anyone outside the camp about what they see, hear, taste, or even smell. Everything they knew belonged to the army now. Everything they knew from here on was highly confidential. There job was to create the atomic bomb and to do nothing else but that. They were to refer to bomb as the gadget or devise for security reasons.

The scientists were given 19 months to complete their mission. Most of them complained that it could not be done, that it was not enough time. Under the leadership of Oppenheimer the work and research began. After several days, their work got them no where. They were faced with the problems such as weight, velocity, and detonation. To make such a bomb they needed materials heaving enough to weight tip the biggest cranes in the world. Late one night, while eating an orange and talking to another scientist, Seth Neddermeyer (a scientist) thought of an idea called implosion.

He got the idea from the orange he was eating. This was probably the one idea that the atomic bomb is centered around. Without implosion, the atomic bomb could not be created. When he squeezed the orange, juice squirted out or an outwards explosion. If you can reverse this process, then the explosion goes in creating a even bigger force. This theory applies to Plutonium. Implosion occurs causing a chain reaction which in return causes an outwards explosion. If an inwards explosion occurred the Plutonium atoms would split apart creating the biggest explosion known to man.

The problem was now creating an inward explosion. By this time, turmoil started to arise inside the camp. Many scientists began complaining about the drastic security measures that were being taken. Things such as the guard dogs and the FBI talking to the families of the scientists bothered them greatly. Also the scientists feared that Germany was ahead of them in creating the bomb. Not helping the situation, Oppenheimer had an affair with a Communist woman named Jean who he had known for quite some time.

The army learned of this and under General Groves orders, were to keep it quiet. If word got out about this, Oppenheimer would be done and so would the whole project along with their work. Groves knew this and that is why it was kept a secret. Oppenheimer was told to end this relationship, immediately. In November of 1944, Groves received a message that Germany was not even close and never was close to creating the atomic bomb. Groves did not tell a sole about this news, for fear that the scientists would quit working on the bomb because they thought they had no reason to go on.

Groves figured if the United States was the first country to create the atomic bomb, then we would have an extreme advantage over other countries. The closer the scientists got to the discovery of the bomb, the more they doubted the use of the bomb. They did not like the idea that they were creating a bomb that was going to be used to kill thousands of innocent people. At one point, a petition was drawn up to stop the research and the whole project. By the time the petition was looked at by everyone, the atomic bomb was completed. The only job left, was to test it.

Many people argued over whether to test it or not. General Groves believed it should be tested while Oppenheimer did not think it should be tested. They both agreed to leave the decision up to the President, Harry Truman. He decided to test the bomb. The bomb was tested at Trinity Test Site in New Mexico on July 16, 1945 and was a complete success. The Americans had finally complete building the first atomic bomb. The scientists held a parade in happiness, not only for successfully completing the project, but being able to go home and see their families and lead a normal life.

Twenty one days later on August 6, 1945 Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima. Three days after that, Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki. Over 200,000 lives were taken because of the bombings. On September 2, 1945 Japan surrendered , unconditionally. Robert Oppenheimer was recognized as a national hero in the United States. In 1949, the White House asked him to lead a project in making the H+ Super Bomb. For recognizable reasons, he declined this offer. In 1954, his security clearances were revokedand he was slowly pushed out of public services. Robert Oppenheimer died of cancer in 1967.


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The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project

The research for the first Atomic bomb was done in the United States, by a group of the best scientists; this research was given the name of “The Manhattan Project”. On Monday July 16th, 1945, a countdown for the detonation of the first atomic bomb took place near Los Alamos, New Mexico. This atomic bomb testing would forever change the meaning of war. As the atomic bomb was detonated it sent shock-waves all over the world. There was endless research done on the bomb in the United States.

The research was called “The Manhattan Engineer District Project” but it was more commonly known as “The Manhattan Project. “1 The Manhattan Project was brought by fear of Germany and it’s atomic research. On account of the fear of Germany the United States took action upon testing their own atomic bomb. Once the bomb was tested, the United States had to decide whether it should be used and if so, where? Then there was the process of dropping the bomb. The Manhattan Project was overall one of the highest and most significant projects ever done in the United States.

The United States government was shocked by the news of German scientists discovering nuclear fission. The news came to the United States from Albert Einstein. Einstein found out the nuclear fission information from a German physicist named Leo Szilard. He then told it to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and urged him to start an investment toward atomic research. 3The research would then help construct an atomic weapon of mass destruction. Roosevelt was not especially concerned about investing in atomic weapon research because he didn’t plan on getting involved in the War.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese, Roosevelt entered the war and sent significant funds to the construction of the atomic weapon. Roosevelt speeded up the process of research by having General Groves setup a committee of the brightest minds from all around the world. Because most of the work done on research of the bomb was done in the Manhattan District of New York, at the US Army Corps of Engineers, the name given to the lay out was “The Manhattan Project”. 3 The man that General Grooves chose to head the Manhattan project was Robert J.

Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer was a Jewish born child who was raised in Manhattan. Oppenheimer went to Harvard University to complete a four-year chemistry program in three years. After Harvard, Oppenheimer went to Cambridge University to get a degree in Subatomic Physics. Then he went to teach at Berkley University. 4 Another main person in the research project was Enrico Fermi. Fermi was a graduate of the University of Pisa, where he received his Ph. D. Fermi then went to the University of Rome teaching chemistry and biology.

Fermi played a major role in the development of the bomb by creating a sustained nuclear fission chain reaction, which was critical to making the atomic bomb. 4 Richard Feyman was another scientist which worked on the atomic bomb. Feyman graduated from Princeton where he excelled in physics and other scientific studies. Feyman’s big duty on the Manhattan Project was to break big problems into smaller easier to do problems. 4 The Manhattan Project, also had to have facilities for the research and testing of the atomic bomb. Some of the facilities built by U. S.

Army Corps of Engineers included: power stations, factories, steel works, hospitals, laboratories, and housing for everybody that worked on the project.. Other facilities that were built for the construction of the bomb were plants to make the radioactive material needed to construct the bomb. Oak Ridge, Tennessee was used to make uranium which was used as an explosive to react with plutonium. The plutonium itself was made in Hanford, Washington. 5 To make this explosion possible, a piece of uranium was fired at another piece of uranium to make the critical mass that was needed for an explosion.

Critical mass is the exact amount of fissionable material needed to maintain a fission chain reaction. Once Critical mass was obtained it compressed Plutonium and when the Plutonium was compressed enough, atoms from plutonium were split and it made an explosive bomb that could destroy a medium sized city. 3 Security was tight on the Los Alamos site because there was fear that bomb secrets would be spread outside of the work place. There were many people that worked on the bomb that didnt even know they were working on it, they just thought it to be another regular government job.

The workers that were there could not use their given names outside of the Los Alamos base. Any mail that was sent was to be read before delivered and vise versa. 5 The creation of the bomb that was believed to work and now only needed to be tested The Manhattan Project was the most funded project done up to this time, so it had to be tested to see if the scientific research had gone to good use. Testing for the first atomic weapon took place on July 16, 1945, at the Trinity test site in Alamogordo, New Mexico. 3 The first atomic bomb was detonated.

Small amounts of plutonium made a destructive force equal to 25,000 tons of TNT. The bomb vaporized the tower where it was dropped from. The bomb reached new heights by a mushroom cloud that was 41,000 feet high and shock-waves from the bomb were felt from at least 10,000 feet away from the test site. The blast was also heard or seen from at least 50 miles away. After the testing, and succession of this first atomic weapon, the world was changed forever on its ways of battle. 3 Now that the bomb that was tested, it was ready to use for war.

Another thing that now needed to be done with The Project, was what to do with the atomic bomb. By the time the atomic bomb was finished, the presidency had changed. President Roosevelt died of polio, so Harry S. Truman was left in charge of the decisions involving the bomb. The focus of the war was changing. Germany was starting to lose in the war day by day. So the U. S. decided to focus much of their attention on the war with Japan. A committee was formed to advise the president on the best course of action to easily defeat Japan with the lowest loss of American lives.

The committee came up with some choices. The first was to negotiate a peace treaty. Second, to cooperate with the Russians and continue fighting the war as they hoped for a quick end. The third decision was to organize a full out invasion with the cooperation of the Army, Navy and other military divisions. Another choice was to use the bomb in a test on an unpopulated island to show the Japanese its capabilities for destruction. Their last choice was to drop the bomb on a major city in Japan. 1 There were many disadvantages to all of these decisions that could be made.

The U. S. was not to accept anything less than a surrender, and the Japanese were insisting that they keep their emperor and current government. To cooperate with Russia meant the U. S. would be in debt and would possibly be in an undesirable situation with the Russian Communist rule. The invasion of the Japanese mainland would, like the previous choice, sacrifice hundreds and thousands of American soldiers. A problem with showing the testing of the bomb was the possible failure of the bomb. As we know choice five was chosen.

The choice of dropping the bomb took about a month to decide from the time of the first initial testing. 1 & 2 Five places had been chosen as good targets in Japan. They were Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Yokohama, and Kokura Arsenal. The last thing the U. S. now had to do was get the bomb dropped on their picked primary targets, which were chosen as Nagasaki and Hiroshima. 1 A new leader, General Carl A. Spaatz, commanding officer in Pacific operations, received notice that the first atomic bomb was to be dropped on Hiroshima.

The actual dropping of the bomb was delayed several times due to predictions of nasty weather. The plane that carried the bomb was named “Enola Gay” and weighed 65 tons at take-off, a total of 8 tons over the normal operating weight of a B-29 bomber. In case of a crash during takeoff, which would have blown up the whole naval base, it was decided that the bomb would have to be armed in the air. Captain William S. Parsons, a Navy ordinance expert, was the man in charge of arming a bomb during flight.

On August 6th, the bomb named “Little Boy,” completely flattened about four miles of Hiroshima. It was estimated that a total of 78,000 died in the explosion, but that number does not include people who died from radiation poisoning. Three days later on August 9th, the bomb named “Fat Man”, dropped on Nagasaki. It did not cause the devastation of Hiroshima because of different land features. But it still resulted in about 39,000 deaths. 5

The second bomb was under suspicion that it was only dropped because the U. S. nted to try a new type of bomb. Some others thought it was needed to claim victory in the Second World War. Either way both bombs were the most monumental in history to this time. 4 In conclusion The Manhattan project was one of the most important and expensive projects ever done in the United States to this time. The drip of the bomb probably could have been stopped but the US decided to take the action which killed thousands and injured millions. The dropping of the bomb forever changed the meaning of war for all citizens of the world.

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