The creation of the Atomic bomb was one of the most profound military, as well as technological achievements of the twentieth century. Nuclear technology has made it possible to have dependable electricity in our, as well as many other countries. It also acts as a war deterrent in some ways, this is so because no one wants the world breaking out in Nuclear war fare. It would surely bring an end to man kind as we know it. In this essay I am going to give a history of the Atomic Bomb, while supporting the above thesis. It was during the Second World War that the United States decisively became a world power.
America achieved this World power status, thanks in a large part to it’s monopoly on atomic weapons. The atomic bomb is a weapon with great explosive power that results form the sudden release of energy upon the splitting, or fission, of the nuclei of such heavy elements as plutonium, or uranium (http://www. atomicarchive. com/index. shtml). This new destructive force was so powerful that it brought an end to World War II. Even though it brutally killed thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians, it also saved thousands of American lives, because a ground invasion of Japan was no longer necessary.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the decision to commit to the creation of the atomic bomb. The plan was known as the Manhattan project, and it would forever change American history. In 1939 the German dictator Adolph Hitler invaded Poland. During this year German scientists also shocked the scientific world when they announced that they had split uranium atoms by man-made means for the first time. Upon hearing this news, a nuclear physicist, Leo Szilard, was convinced that a chain reaction of this process could be used as a weapon to release an awesome burst of power. Szilard knew that this knowledge was now in the vil hands of the German enemies.
On July, 1939 Szilard and his long time associate Edward Teller, drove to Albert Einstein’s Long Island home to pay him a visit. Upon hearing the news that a uranium atom had been split he immediately wrote a letter to president Roosevelt. In this letter Einstein explained the mass destructive powers of the bomb as well as what could happen if it got into Hitler’s hands (Giovannitti). Two months later when Roosevelt actually read the letter he ordered a committee of scientists and military officers to meet Szilard and Teller to determine whether America was capable of building a nuclear bomb.
In 1940, Szilard and Teller were granted a mere $6,000 to begin experiments in nuclear fission. The duo enlisted the help of the winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1938, Enrico Fermi. (Giovannitti) Since much of the United States’ early nuclear research had been conducted at New York’s Columbia University, the federal government assigned the Manhattan District of the Army Corps of Engineers to construct the primary research and production facilities for the project. The “Manhattan Project” became the code name for the atomic-bomb development program.
In 1942 the Manhattan Project was moved to chicago. The laboratory was ctually set up underneath the bleachers, of the University of Chicago, foot ball stadium. The turning point of the project occurred in this lab underneath the bleachers, the first nuclear chain reaction had been created. (Stein, R. Conrad,) The reaction was tested on December 2, 1942 when they built a graphite nuclear reactor the size of a house. The experiment was conducted by the pulling of a rod that was attached to the reactor. The meter on the counting machine continued to ascend until it reached the highest point.
The rod was then pushed back in before the reactor exploded, which could of possibly taken out a large portion of Chicago. This experiment confirmed that an Atom bomb could be made. Szilard was recorded telling Fermi that,”This is a black day for mankind. The successful experiment brought a confidence to Roosevelt and he soon made the Manhattan Project his top priority. The project’s focus was then changed from splitting atoms to the actual creation of the bomb. Roosevelt had now invested over $2,000,000,000 into the project (http://www. atomicarchive. com).
The Manhattan Project’s team consisted of the nations smartest mathematicians, as well as it’s most highly trained and bright technical people. Twelve of the team members were actually nobel prize winners. Roosevelt now felt as though he was in a race with Hitler to create the Nuclear bomb, and he was very intent on winning this race. The evidence that Hitler had begun making the Atomic bomb came when the Germans took over a heavy water plant in Norway (http://www. atomictourist. com/). Heavy water contains deuterium which is vital part of the bomb making process.
American spies also reported that Germans were mining Uranium in Czechoslovakia(http://www. historychannel. com/). This news evidence was highly disturbing. No one wanted a mad man such as Hitler having control of Nuclear bomb. The Manhattan Project was surely one of the most dedicated and ingenious projects in American history. Considering all that was put into the project, it was quite a masterpiece of science. The project called for the processing of the extremely rare element uranium, as well as the use of giant machinery that was needed for the bomb’s development.
The bomb’s design and construction was like putting together a puzzle that had never been solved before. http://www. historychannel. com Work on the project was conducted in thirty-seven installations, spread over thirteen different states. There were actually two towns that were created in order to produce the material that would fuel the bomb (Hanford, Washington; and Oak Ridge, Tennessee). By 1945 Oak Ridge had been transformed from an isolated valley holding a few farms into the fifth largest city in Tennessee. (Stein, R. Conrad,) The actual design and construction of the bomb was carried out at another new town: Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Prior to the war Los Alamos had been a tiny ranch used as a boy’s school. Houses and buildings were swiftly erected at Los Alamos. Soon the town had its own newspaper, schools and a population of four thousand. Los Alamos residents consisted mainly of scientists and their families. J. Robert Oppenheimer was the head of the Los Alamos project. (Stein, R. Conrad,) He worked on some nuclear research at Berkley and was assigned to direct Project Y. Project Y was the actual designing of the bomb. It was Oppenheimer’s idea to use the Los Alamos location as the design laboratory.
As this was happening, General Leslie Groves had taken over general military command of the Manhattan Project. (Stein, R. Conrad,) Groves was obsessed with keeping the work a secret and he had a small army of security guards standing watch all over the plants and laboratories. Of a small army of hundreds of thousands that took part in the creation of the Atomic bomb only a small group of them actually knew what they were building. The few who did know the goal of the project would often call the bomb a “gadget”, or a “gizmo” in conversation (Stein, R. Conrad,).
Allied armies stormed the beaches of France and began a very long march to Germany. This turning point in the war occurred in June 1944. There was a top-secret unit that was traveling with the front-line forces on the march to Germany. This team was code named ALSOS. The ALSOS team investigated research sites in Europe where American scientists believed Germans were making nuclear weapons. The ALSOS was soon blessed with good news (Herken, Gregg, The Winning Weapon,) . . Evidence was found that Germany was not actively working on a bomb at all.
Early in the war Germany had shown interest in nuclear bombs, but it later shifted its goals toward making rockets and jet aircraft. Hitler himself led his country away from atomic weaponry by denouncing nuclear physics as a “Jewish Science. ” On May 8, 1945. Germany had surrendered to the allies. A week earlier, Hitler had committed suicide in a Berlin bunker along with his new wife. With the war in Europe over, Japan stood as America’s only enemy. Since Japan was a nation near defeat in 1945 many Manhattan Project scientists thought it would be inhumane to drop the bomb on a helpless nation.
Leo Szilard wrote a letter to now President Truman, begging him not to use the weapon he helped create on Japan. Truman rejected his pleas by pointing out that the battle at Okinawa cost the U. S. fifty thousand men killed, or wounded. Military experts estimated that by dropping the Atomic bomb Japan would be forced to surrender, and a ground invasion which would likely result in over a million United States casualties would be avoided. (Stein, R. Conrad,) The Manhattan Project work was almost completed by July, 1945; they had developed a working nuclear bomb.
The only obstacle that stood in their way was the testing of the bomb. The test, was code name “Trinity” and it occurred on July 16, 1945 in the New Mexico desert town of Alamogordo. A group of scientists and high-ranking military officials waited tensely in a concrete bunker at five in the morning. It was said to be too dark to see the hundred foot tall steel tower that housed the world’s first atomic bomb nicknamed “Fat Man. ” (Giovannitti) Scientist Isidor Rabi wrote as the countdown came to a close and the bomb xploded. “It was the brightest light I have ever seen or that I think anyone has ever seen.
It blasted; it pounced; it bored its way right through you. It was a vision, which was seen with more than the eye. It was seen to last forever. You wished it would stop…. There was an enormous ball of fire, which grew, and it rolled as it grew: it went up in the air in yellow flashes and into scarlet green. It looked menacing. It seemed to come toward me. ” (Stein, R. Conrad,) The success of the Bomb left some mixed reactions; some were recorded congratulating each other with pats on the back, while others just sat in ilence, most likely scared of what was to come.
Robert Oppenheimer spoke a passage from the Bhagavad-Gita an ancient book of Hindu scripture: “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. ” After receiving a full report of the test, President Truman decided that dropping the bomb would be the only way to save American soldiers. Although some historians believe that an ulterior motive was to impress the Soviets; Truman claimed he was looking out for the future of the United States. “Stein, R. Conrad, Cornerstones of Freedom” It was August 6, 1945, and a single B-29 bomber named Enola Gay took off rom Tinian Island, about fifteen hundred miles south of Japan.
The bomber was jam-packed with one whale-shaped bomb that weighed about nine-thousand pounds and nicknamed “little boy. ” Far ahead of the Enola Gay, a scout plane reported that there was little cloud cover the Japanese city of Hiroshima, which was the primary. In the city men and women jammed the streets for work and school, just going about their dayly lives. (Wyden, Peter, Day One) At precisely 8:15 A. M. the B-29 dropped its bomb. Seven hundred yards above Hiroshima, the bomb exploded like a huge flashlight. The blast killed seventy thousand residents, many of whom were instantly incinerated.
If this wasn’t enough carnage, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, three days later killing forty thousand more people. In the following months the deaths’ tolls from the two bombings continued to climb. The bombs released poisonous radiation that caused leukemia and other diseases to sky rocket. Every single person in Japan felt the bomb’s blow, if not physically then emotionally. Not even the Manhattan Project scientists could have foreseen that their creation would have deadly long- term effects. Even today Hiroshima and Nagasaki residents are dying of sicknesses caused from the toxic blasts of 1945.
On August 14, 1945, just five days after the Nagasaki blast, Japan agreed to American terms of surrender. The atomic bombs manufactured by the Manhattan Project had helped to win World War II; however, the bombs guided the world into a nuclear age. Since the first test millions of people have wondered whether nuclear weapons would bring the end of life to our planet. (www. halfbakery. com) That question was first raised on the New Mexico desert in 1945 when a scientist remarked, “I am sure that at the end f the world- at the last millisecond of the world’s existence-the last man will see something very familiar to what we have seen today.
The immense power of the Atomic bomb can make and destroy nations. Nuclear technology has continued to flourish, and there are now bombs that are thousands of times stronger then the ones dropped in Japan (http://www. butlerfam. freeserve. co. uk). If a world war were to break out where nuclear nations shot atomic missiles at each other, a possible result would be the end of civilization. Albert Einstein once said,'”On the assumption that a Third World War must escalate to nuclear destruction, I an tell you that the Fourth World War will be fought with bows and arrows” (Albert Einstein).
If a Nuclear war did break out, the smoke from the monumental explosions would block out so much of the sun’s light that there would be a significant temperature drop. Crops would be adversely affected by both the lower temperatures, as well as the lack of sun needed for plant growth. Almost 60% of the earth’s population would die from starvation while the remaining people would suffer through the exponentially raised cancer cases, as well as the dreadful nuclear winter. Embryos in the womb would lso be instantly killed by the blast, or else suffer horrible birth defects, as seen after the Hiroshima bombing.
Although the creation of nuclear technology was no doubtedly a turning point in modern war fare, it is equally significant in today’s industrial, technological and productive world. Nuclear technology has provided the world’s people with a reliable, and when compared to other energy sources, environmentally friendly source of electricity. Today Nuclear power is a thriving global industry. In the world there are a total of 441 nuclear power plants operating around the world. These 441 plants supply more then 6 percent of the world’s electricity.
There are also over 33 plants that are currently under construction. (http://www. nei. org/). On a national scale nuclear energy is America’s number one source of emissions free energy, supplying about twenty percent of our nation’s electricity. The only energy source that produced more electricity then nuclear power was coal. Nuclear technology does not only bring electricity to American families, it brings a security to National energy. Nuclear energy is dependable, and unlike other fuel sources, it is not dependent on the weather, or climate in any way.
It is also not subjected to unpredictable cost fluctuations, or dependent on foreign suppliers. Nuclear power is no doubtedly a force to be reckoned with. There is no other thing in the world that can be so efficient and yielding, while at the same time the most destructive thing to be created on earth. Nuclear power plants bring so much electricity to so many people while a nuclear war could mean the end of civilization as we know it. I hope that our world’s Nations will learn that nothing is worth nuclear war, and it must be avoided at all costs. ‘An eye for an eye and the world will soon be blind’ (Mahatma Ghandi)