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On August 2, 1939 Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This was right before the start of World War 2. In this letter Einstein and several other scientists told Roosevelt of the efforts Hitler was making to purify U-235 in which he hoped to make an atomic bomb. This is when the United States started the Manhattan Project. This was the project of making an atomic bomb.
In the project many brilliant minds were used. The most famous of these people is Robert Oppenheimer. He was the major person behind this project. He basically ran the operation and oversaw the hole project from start to completion. Other great people like H.C. Urey, Ernest Lawrence, Isidor Rabi, and Ken Bainbridge also worked on the project and put just as much into it.
The most complicated process was the process of getting enough uranium to sustain a chain reaction. In that time it was very hard to extract U-235. The ration of Uranium ore to the Uranium metal is 500:1. Then out of this Uranium metal 99% of it is U-238 which is non-fissionable. Finding a process to refining the Uranium was the first step in developing the atomic bomb.
A massive enrichment laboratory/plant was built in Oak ridge, Tennessee. H.C. Urey and other associates at Columbia University devised a system that separated the Uranium using the principle of gaseous diffusion. Ernest Lawrence shortly following this invention came up with a process using magnetic separation. This process was quicker then the first. After the Uranium metal was separated form the Uranium ore it is put into a gas centrifuge to separate the U-235 and U-238. The first step of building an atomic bomb was completed. They now had the U-235 to build a bomb.
Over the course of six years, 1939-1945, scientist worked on equations to make the U-235 into a bomb. It took some of the greatest minds to make these formulas. At the end of the six years and after spending $2 billion they had what they thought was a working bomb or a very expensive dud.
At 5:29:45 (Mountain War Time) on July the 16th, 1945 the "Gadget", the code name for the bomb, was tested in the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico. This was the first atomic bomb ever detonated. The Gadget caused a white blaze to stretch across the skies of New Mexico.
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The creators of the Gadget had mixed feelings. Some felt that the equilibrium in nature was upset. Others were glad that the project had succeeded. Robert Oppenheirmer was excited that the project was a success, but quoted a fragment from Bhagavad Gita. "I am become death the destroyer of worlds." Several of the creators signed a petition against releasing the monster.
Atomic bombs have only been used twice in warfare. The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. It was a Uranium bomb that weighed over 4.5 tons. It was a 20 kiloton bomb that was nicknamed Little Boy. It was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. The Aioi Bridge was the targeting spot. It was to expelled 1,800 ft above the city. At 08:15 the bomb was dropped from the Enola Gay. At 08:16 hours the bomb exploded 2,000 ft above Hiroshima . It was only 800ft off target. It instantly killed 66,000 people and 69,000 people were injured. Total vaporization was up to ½ mile away from the center of the explosion. Total destruction ranged up to 1 mile away from the center. Severe damaged ranged up to 2 miles away and anything flammable burned up to 2.5 miles away.
The second bomb that was dropped was three days after the first bomb. This one was a plutonium bomb. Plutonium does the same thing as Uranium, but it is manmade so they don’t have to go through the process of refining the Uranium. This bomb was only a 10 kiloton bomb. This bombs nickname was Fat Man. The Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki. The bomb missed its target point by over a mile and a half, but it still killed 39,000 people and injured 25,000 people. It destroyed over half the city.
The Little Boy (left) and Fat Man (right) were the only bombs used in war. They caused
many deaths. The Little Boy caused 200,000 people to die because of its affects. The Fat Man Caused 70,000 people to die. With this many number of deaths it is questionable if they should have been dropped. Both sides argue there sides, but what happened cannot be changed.