How The Atom Bomb Was Developed         The Events Leading To

1153 words - 5 pages

How the Atom Bomb Was Developed The events leading to the development of the atom bomb began in 1896. In that year Henri Becquerel of France discovered radioactivity of certain atoms. Influenced by Becquerel's work, Marie and Pierre Curie discovered two naturally radioactive elements, radium, and polonium. Following this, many more important discoveries occurred. In 1905 Albert Einstein of Germany advanced his famous theory E=mc2, which states that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. This described what would happen if energy and matter could be changed into each other. Scientists calculated the energy of one single hydrogen nucleus has almost one billion electron volts. A New World of scientific investigation was opened by this theory. The atom was studied, measured, and full of nuclear particles. The atom gave up its biggest secret in 1938 when Hahn and Strassmann of Germany learned that they had split the uranium atom. Lise Meitner and O.R. Frisch identified the splitting as nuclear fission. Excitement was great in the scientific world. Each fission was found to release about 200,000,000 electron volts of energy. In addition, it was found that neutrons were thrown off in the fission process. These Could be used to set off a chain reaction of nuclear fissions. The next step could be a violent chain reaction-which would lead to the atomic bomb. Many world scientists feared that Germany, which was at war, would develop the bomb and use it to conquer the world. Thus, a number of them presented facts about atomic energy to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. He created the Uranium Project to study atomic-bomb development. The President ordered increased effort late in 1941 when the United States entered World War II. Two noted Americans, Vannevar Bush, and James Conant then supervised the atomic bomb project. All activities of the project were kept secret. Progress was made through 1942. A nuclear reactor was designed to sustain a chain reaction. The pile was first put into operation on December 2, 1942. On that historic day the Atomic age opened. A nuclear chain reaction had been achieved. The United States War Department was brought into the work in 1942 when it appeared that an atomic bomb could be developed in time to be of use in World War II. In May 1943, the U.S. Army Engineers took complete charge of all activities related to the development of atomic energy and atomic bombs. The name of the project was changed to the Manhattan Engineer District. Major General Leslie R. Groves was appointed to direct the entire Project. Huge Plants were built to speed up production of uranium 235 and plutonium. Plutonium, element 94, was manufactured in a nuclear reactor by the combination of U-238 with neutrons. The biggest question off all, which everyone who knew about this was whether or not the bomb would work or not. To answer this, a laboratory had been built at Los...

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