The Manhattan Project

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by daaldrich
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Social Studies
World War II

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The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project

On August 2nd 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The letter warned him that Nazi Germany was attempting to purify Uranium 235, which can be used to make an atomic bomb.

A massive enrichment plant was constructed in Oak Rigde, Tenessee to seperate the useful U-235 from the nearly useless U-238. They are nearly identical in cehemical makeup, which made them hard to seperate. Various methods were developed to seperate the two, including gaseous diffusion, and magnetic separation.

Over six years, from 1939-1945, the Manhattan Project cost more than 20 billion dollars. It was driven by the fear that Germany would invent an atomic bomb first. This would have given them a big military advantage.

The scientists who were a part of the manhattan project: Robert Oppenheimer, David Bohm, Leo Szilard, Eufene Wigner, Otto Frisch, Rudolf Peierls, Felis Bloch, Niels Bohr,Emilio Segre, James Franck, Enrico Fermi, Klaus Fuchs and Edward Teller. These were some of the greatest minds of the time, and Robert Oppenheimer oversaw the project to completion.

In 1942, physicist Enrico Fermi successfully controlled a nuclear reaction in his reactor, called CP-1 at the University of Chicago.

On July 16,1945 the atomic bomb (code named The Gadget) was tested at Los Alamos, New Mexico. The explosion shot upwards at 360 ft per second, and the mushroom cloud of vapor appeared at 30,000 ft. It was so hot that the soil at the site was turned into jade green glass.

A blind girl saw the flash of the first atomic bomb test from 120 miles away. Residents from a neighboring community swore that the sun came up twice that day. Many of the bombs creators had mixed reactions about it. Robert Oppenheimer quoted "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds", and Ken Bainbridge quoted "Now we're all sons of bitches."

Truman issued the order to drop the bomb on July 26, 1945. On August 6,1945 the Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb "Little Boy" on Hiroshima. 2/3 of the city was destroyed, and 70,000 were killed immediately and about 70,000 more died from radiation. 3 days later, the Bock's Car dropped the "Fat Man" on Nagasaki. This killed 70,000 by the end of the year and destroyed 40% of the city. The day after Japan unconditionally surrendered.


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