Manhattan Project

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The Manhattan Project Winston Churchill, in 1949, was quoted to say that “the advent of the atomic bomb might prove to be the most beneficent development in history precisely because it will make war intolerable.” The interesting thing about nuclear war is that it is not merely a question of science, but one of morals and of the ethics of war. Surely, with a result so potentially catastrophic, no one within ethical boundaries could use it. I’m not sure whether Mr. Churchill had it right or if he underestimated the inherently wicked nature of human beings, but a question of equal importance must be posed first: where did it all start? To answer this question, we must predetermine what exactly it is. Let’s assume for the sake of study that it is the first atomic bomb and from that draw a conclusion that possesses a slightly better perspective. So, where did it all start? It started with a group of scientists and engineers that formed an organization called the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project was given almost unlimited funding by President Roosevelt and was really only a rented out school in Los Alamos, New Mexico where scientists began working on what was to be the first atomic bomb. Given it was a large camp with 6,000 sets of ears (that’s one set per person), security was obsessively tight. The General in charge of this project (General Leslie R. Groves) was very secretive and most of the scientists, technicians, and their families had no idea what it was they were working on. Perhaps the most intriguing thing was that there were 200,000 people nation wide working on some piece of this without a clue they were aiding the extermination of over 300,000 people. Over $2 billion was hidden from the public and snuck into the funding by President Roosevelt which could not have hurt the cause. This kind of spending is the reason why Germany and Japan never came close to developing the bomb. What would any study be without a dry outline of the costs involved? The total cost for WW2 in the U.S. was approximately $3.3 trillion, and about $20 billion of that was purely spent on the A-bomb (about $5 billion per bomb). It is worth noting that that cost only includes raw materials and not the cost for all of the scientists and technicians designing it.

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