The Atomic Age

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


This is a short summary of the creation of the Atomic Bomb and the tragedies that came shortly afterward.

Submitted: November 21, 2017

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Submitted: November 21, 2017

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On July 16th, 1945, at 5:29 a.m., in Alamogordo, New Mexico, 120 miles South from Santa Fe, the first atomic bomb was detonated.

During WWII, a team of American Physicists and engineers began a race against Nazi, Germany to create the first atomic bomb. This lasted from 1942 to 1945, and was called “The Manhattan project”. It would eventually force Japan to surrender and finally end the war, but in the meantime, the “Atomic Age” killed or injured over 200,000 people from Hiroshima to Nagasaki.

The Manhattan Project was named for Columbia University in Manhattan, New York. The military operations were lead by Brigadier General Leslie R. Groves and J. Robert Oppenheimer.

In 1939, an Italian immigrant physicist named Enrico Fermi met with the U.S. Navy department officials at Columbia University to discuss using fissionable materials for military purposes. That same year, Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt suggesting that an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction had great potential of being the basis for a weapon of mass destruction. Einstein was hesitant to contact anyone at first but he was provoked by the threat of Nazi Germany who had discovered fission first in 1938.

In February of 1940, the federal government granted $6,000, to buy granite and uranium oxide for research, which throughout the atomic age led to over 2 billion dollars. The “Axis Powers”, otherwise known as “The Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis” took their name after the Tripartite Pact was signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan on September 27, 1940.  In 1942, Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves, an engineer, was in complete charge of a project to bring together the greatest minds in science and discover how to harness the power of the atom in order to bring the war to an abrupt end. The Manhattan Project would research and test in many different locations during the early period of theoretical exploration, most importantly, the University of Chicago, where Enrico Fermi successfully set off the first fission chain reaction. Fission occurs when the nucleus of an atom breaks into two equal fragments. This reaction releases neutrons that break up more atoms, causing a chain reaction.

The granite caused the reaction to slow down and allowed control on the chain reaction, but the people of The Manhattan Project realized that it was not safe to develop nuclear weapons in scattered cities around the U.S., so Oppenheimer suggested Los Alamos, New Mexico where General Groves approved the site and began construction. Oppenheimer became the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, which would be known as “Project Y”.

Their research led to the Trinity Test in 1945. That summer, the test bomb codenamed “the Gadget” was taken to the New Mexico desert at a location known as Jornada del Muerto, which is Spanish for Journey of the Dead Man. When the bomb was dropped there was a forceful flash, a wave of heat, a stupendous shock wave, and a mushroom cloud that extended 40,000 feet into the atmosphere.

Germany surrendered on May 8th, 1945. Japan refused to surrender. The war lasted six years and involved most of the world. It caused the deaths of 61 million people and hundreds of thousands of displaced homeless Jews and other refugees were terminated. On August 6th, 1945, a uranium bomb called “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber known as the Enola Gay. Robert Lewis, Co-pilot of the B-29 bomber, wrote in his journal moments later, “My God, what have we done.”

Japan still refused to surrender; so on August 9th, 1945, the second bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, Japan. The atomic bomb named “Fat Man” killed over 39,000 people and injured 25,000. Japan surrendered on August 14th, 1945, finally ending WWII. Afterwards, more people lost their lives to the lingering radiation. Survivors of this bomb would also pass radiation onto their descendants which would lead to high cases of Leukemia in their children. Even though many countries continue to develop these destructive arsenals, the world now understands the full consequences of the atomic bomb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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