Manhattan Project

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On August 2nd 1939, just before the beginning of World War II, Albert Einstein wrote to then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Einstein and several other scientists told Roosevelt of efforts in Nazi Germany to utilize a rare element, U-235, which might in turn be used to build a weapon. This weapon would be capable of power totally beyond the scope of mans’ vision. Ironically and sadly, it was shortly thereafter that the United States Government began the serious undertaking known only then as “The Manhattan Project.” Through the harness and development of the atom’s power, the Manhattan Project stands as a marker for man’s passage into an exciting and also terrifying age of nuclear power. Simply put, the Manhattan Project was committed to quick research and production that would yield a workable atomic bomb. “Over the course of six years, ranging from 1939 to 1945, more than two billion dollars were spent on the Manhattan Project. An additional seventy-six million dollars were spent by the Army Air Forces on Project SILVERPLATE. [ Project SILVERPLATE covered the modification of 46 B-29 bombers in support of the Manhattan Project, trained the personnel of the 509th composite bombing group, and provided logistical support for units based at Tinian Island, launching point for the attacks on Japan.]” (www.infoseek.com, 2001) The formulas for refining Uranium and putting together a working bomb were created and seen to their ends by some of the greatest minds of our time. Among these people to unleashed the power of the atomic bomb was J. Robert Oppenheimer. “J. Robert Oppenheimer was born in New York City on April 22, 1904. After graduating from Harvard and studying under Ernest Rutherford at Cambridge University, Oppenheimer received his Ph.D. in Germany in 1925. In 1929, he returned to the United States to teach at the University of California Berkeley and at Cal Tech.” (Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, 1998) In June 1942, Oppenheimer was appointed scientific director of the Manhattan Project. Oppenheimer was the major force behind the Manhattan Project. He literally ran the show and saw to it that all of the great minds working on this project made their brainstorms work. He oversaw the entire project from its conception to its completion. Finally the day came when all at Los Alamos would find out whether or not “The Gadget” was either going to be the colossal dud of the century or perhaps change mankind forever.

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