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The Effects And Minds Behind The Atomic Bomb

3407 words - 14 pages

The first atomic bomb to ever be used against humanity was dropped on August 6th, 1945. On that day a new kind of war was invented. There were, of course, many events leading up to this catastrophe. Some would say it began as far back as when Democritus proposed the idea of an atom. Maybe the first step towards the atomic bomb was when Einstein sent his fabled letter to President Roosevelt. Regardless of when exactly these events started, they would lead to the creation of one of the most dangerous weapons to ever be conceived. World renowned physicists, such as Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard, would help build the atomic bomb and vastly improve America’s understanding of science with their inventions, including the Chicago Pile-1. Bigger and greater experiments were then done by the Uranium Committee and the famed Manhattan Project, all building up to the fatal day of the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These attacks would rock the foundations of war, as it changed all previous parameters. Although the Manhattan Project greatly furthered nuclear science, it also vastly increased the damage and horror that could be created by mankind.
Some of the world’s greatest physicists contributed to the early research for making the atomic bomb. In fact, scientific understanding of the atom increased in leaps and bounds during the nineteenth century. Much of the earliest research was conducted by Ernest Rutherford, a New Zealand physicist. Rutherford spent a large part of his life studying the atom and its inner workings, such as the nucleus. In 1919 he began his work on atomic fission. Fission was the idea of splitting an atom, so that physicists could observe the nucleus inside the atom. Rutherford hypothesized that if the atom could successfully be split, the matter held in nuclei could be made into usable energy, in accordance to Einstein’s famed equation E=mc2. However, since atoms were so small, the idea of splitting one was nearly impossible. The first step towards achieving powerful atomic fission was taken at Manchester University, England when Rutherford successfully completed “the first artificial transmutation of an element, changing several atoms of nitrogen into oxygen” (“The Manhattan Project: Making the Atomic Bomb”). While Rutherford had indeed been able to change one element into another, he had not been able to directly split the nucleus. This was due to the fact that physicists at that time were trying to bombard nuclei with protons, which were positive particles. Since the nuclei also held a positive charge, they were very resistant to protons, as the charges did not cancel one another out (“The Manhattan Project: Making the Atomic Bomb”). However, that difficulty would be surpassed in 1932, when Rutherford’s own assistant, James Chadwick, discovered an atomic particle called the neutron. This small particle held no charge at all, making it able to easily pass through the nucleus of an atom. The neutron was a perfect tool that...

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