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Essay/Term paper: The manhatten project

Essay, term paper, research paper:  History

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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. The endless research done on this bomb had a name and it was "The Manhattan Project."

The Manhattan Project was brought by fear of Germany and it's atomic research. Next, was the people who were behind the production of the bomb. After the fear of Germany the United States took action and tested 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 getting the bomb dropped.

The Manhattan Project was overall one of the biggest and most important projects ever done in the United States. 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 information of nuclear fission from a German physicist named Leo Szilard, and then told it to President Roosevelt and urged him that there should be investments made into research to help construct an atomic weapon of mass destruction. Roosevelt didn't really care about investing in atomic weapon research because he didn't plan on getting involved in the War.

When Roosevelt entered the war, he sent major funds to the construction of an atomic weapon when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. Roosevelt speeded up the process of research by having General Groves setup a committee of the brightest minds from all around the world.

The name given to the project was called "The Manhattan Project", because most of the work done on research of the bomb was done in the Manhattan District of the US Army Corps of Engineers in New York City. Groves picked his front man for the project, it was to be Robert J. Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer, after being picked to supervise the construction of the bomb, chose Los Alamos, New Mexico to be the first test site of the first atomic weapon of mass destruction. The Germans having atomic research and President Roosevelt investing into atomic research and naming General Groves as the leader of the project is one reason why the Manhattan Project was one of the biggest and most important projects ever done in the United States.

Another reason why the Manhattan Project was overall one of the biggest and most important projects ever done in the United States was the main characters who were involved in the process of making an atomic weapon. The man that General Grooves chose to head the Manhattan project was Robert J. Oppenheimer. Robert J. Oppenheimer was a Jewish born child that 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. After that he went to teach at Berkley University.

One of the other main people in the research project was Enrico Fermi. Fermi was a graduate of the University of Pisa, where he received his Ph.D., Magna Cum Laude. Fermi then taught at 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.

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.

Having people with incredibly smart minds is another reason why the Manhattan Project was one of the biggest projects in the U.S.. One of the biggest projects that was ever done in the U.S., also had to have facilities for it. 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.

Security was tight on the Los Alamos site because there was fear that bomb secrets would be spread outside of the work place. There was many people that worked on the bomb the whole time and never knew that they were working on the bomb and just thought it to be a 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 to was read before delivered and vise versa.

Other facilities that were built for the construction of the bomb were plants to make the radioactive material needed to construct the bomb. Places like 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. 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 a explosive bomb that could destroy a medium sized city.

Creating a bomb that was believed to work and now only needed to be tested is another reason why I believe the Manhattan Project was one of the biggest U.S. projects ever done. The biggest project that the U.S. ever funded, had to be tested to see if the scientific research had gone to good use. Testing for the first atomic weapon of mass destruction took place on July 16, 1945. After the testing of this first atomic weapon, the world be changed forever on it's ways of battle.

At the Trinity test site in Alamogordo, New Mexico, 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 was 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. Now that there is a bomb that was tested and ready to use for war, is another reason the Manhattan Project was great. Another thing that now needed to be done with the biggest and most important projects ever done in the United States was now, what to do with the atomic bomb.

When the atomic bomb was finished, the presidency had change. After President Roosevelt died of polio, Harry S. Truman was left in charge of what should be done with the new atomic weapon. The focus of the war was changing. Germany was starting to lose in the war day by day. 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 had been hoping for a quick end. Another decision was to organize a full out invasion with the cooperation of the Army, Navy and other military divisions. Another was to use the bomb in a test to show it's capabilities for destruction and invite the Japanese. Their last choice was to drop the bomb on strategic army positions in Japan. There was 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 a bomb was the possible failure of the bomb. Choice five was to drop the bomb on a Japanese city, and this was as we know, was chosen.

The choice of dropping the bomb took about a month to decide from the time of the first initial testing. Now that a place has been chosen to drop a bomb and the U.S. was going to get the war in Japan finished is another reason why the Manhattan Project was one of the biggest and most important project ever done in the United States. The last thing the U.S. now had to do was get the bomb dropped on their primary targets. 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. Predictions of nasty weather delayed bombing. The plane was named "Enola Gay" after Colonel Tibbets' mother and weighed 65 tons at take-off, a total of 8 tons over the normal operating weight of a B-29 bomber. It was decided that because of a crash during takeoff would have blown up the whole naval base that it 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. The bomb "Little Boy," was dropped on Hiroshima and completely flattened about four miles of the city. 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.

The "Fat Man" bomb, dropped on Nagasaki, did not cause the devastation of Hiroshima because of different land features. About 39,000 humans died as a result of the bomb. 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. Now that one of the most tremendous bombs was dropped, it named the Manhattan Projects as one of the biggest and most important projects ever done in the United States, and also the final turning point in the second world war.


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