Manhattan Project Essay

1919 words - 8 pages

Although the Manhattan project was a bomb it was the psychological effects of the two bomb droppings that did more damage than the actual destruction caused. The projected was started through United States concern that the Germans were developing a similar weapon. It was kept a well guarded secret and when it was used for the first time on a city caused a horrible shock. The decision to use the bomb was not made lightly and had many different reasons behind it. It was made especially hard after seeing the actual destruction it could cause because unveiling the technology would lead to others wanting to replicate it. In the end though it was used on Japan and though it caused less damage than ...view middle of the document...

While Britain knew about the project it was imperative that Germany and Japan did not learn of its existence. It was such a secret that Vice President Truman knew nothing of the project until he became the President of the United States. The research was started at Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and the University of California at Berkeley. The first breakthrough came in 1942. Fermi and a group of physicists produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction beneath Stagg Field at the University of Chicago. Once the project was seen as a real possibility more funds were made readily available. The project was able to continue at a much faster pace and three new nuclear facilities were built in Tennessee, Washington, and New Mexico. The Manhattan Project employed over 120,000 Americans but only very few scientist and officials knew about the bomb. It was often only referred to as the “gadget”.
The project was headed by Brigadier General Leslie R. Groves, and he choose physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to led the scientists. The group spent months confined to the Los Alamos base working in the gadget. It was George Kistiakowsky who figured out how to detonate the bomb. He discovered that by having a ring of explosives go off simultaneously the bomb would implode. With all the pieces falling into place in the summer of 1945 Oppenheimer was finally ready to test the first bomb. Kenneth Bainbridge had the job of finding a testing ground isolated enough to test the bomb. The spot needed to be flat, desolate, and have consistent good weather. Most importantly though the site needed to be remote. It also needed to be reasonably close to headquarters but far enough away no one could put the two together. He started with eight sites, a sandbar called Padre Island, a desert training ground in California, and six arid valleys in New Mexico. After visiting the sites Bainbridge choose a flat stretch of land northwest of Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Civilian contractors were brought to the sight to build a 100 foot tower to attach the bomb too. It was built 800 yards away from ground zero. Bainbridge filled it with boxes of explosives and blew it up to test how the tower would handle a huge blast. The contractors then began building a second tower, actually used for the bomb test, on ground zero. About six miles from the tower they built three bunkers on the compass points north, south, and west. They were built into the ground, were supported by oak beams, and topped with concrete. Eleven miles south of the tower was a base camp and twenty miles north east was an observation post. The test took place at 5:29:45 a.m. on July 16, 1945. The scientist were in no way prepared for what happened next. There was a blinding flash, followed by another longer flash that could be seen for 200 miles.The flashes were followed by a large fireball and then a mushroom cloud erupted 40,000 feet into the sky. It blew out civilian's home windows 100 miles...

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