Manhattan Project Essay

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.2 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.

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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 didn’t 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.5 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. wanted 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.

Atomic Bomb : Decision ? Target Committee —
2 Atomic Archive – Explore the History, Science, and Consequences of the Atomic
Bomb ? 3 CD-ROM and Online Encarta
Encyclopedia 99 4 The Manhattan Project —
5 The Avalon Project : The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki —


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