The Manhattan Project Essay Research Paper Manhattan

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The Manhattan Project Essay, Research Paper Manhattan Project The Einstein Letter Leo Szilard, like many other foreign-born physicists in the U.S. who had fled fascism, knew Germany was conducting nuclear research. Having learned the Germans had banned the export of uranium, he believed the Germans were developing an atomic bomb. Fearing what would happen if Germany developed a nuclear weapon, he urged Dr. Albert Einstein to convince the American government to support nuclear research. On August 2, 1939, a month before Germany invaded Poland, Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt, recommending that the U.S. fund nuclear research, stating that it could result in “extremely powerful bombs” made of uranium. Einstein’s recommendation was based on the research of

physicists Leo Szilard and Enrico Fermi. Szilard had developed the theory of nuclear fission. But it was Fermi who was the first to actually produce nuclear fission in the laboratory, which won him the 1938 Nobel Prize for Physics. Based on Einstein’s letter, President Roosevelt authorized a study, but the decision to devote full energy to the production of the bomb was not made until December 6, 1941: the day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. General Leslie Groves General Groves was chosen to make the atomic bomb a reality, code named the Manhattan Project. He named J. Robert Oppenheimer, a brilliant nuclear physicist from the University of California at Berkeley as director. Together they chose Los Alamos, New Mexico, a remote location not far from Santa Fe, as the

site for the design and construction of atomic bombs. Oppenheimer gathered scientists, many of them Nobel Prize winners, from the most prestigious universities in the U.S.: University of California at Berkeley, University of Chicago, Columbia University, as well as several British and Canadian scientists. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built power stations, factories, foundries, blast furnaces, steel works, hospitals, laboratories and housing at Los Alamos. It involved over 200,000 people and cost the U.S. two billion dollars. The Manhattan Project was a collaboration of American science and industry carried out under the direction of the U.S. Army. The Manhattan Project was conducted in complete secrecy not only from the enemy but from the American public. Most of the factory

workers were unaware of what they were producing. Manhattan Project Support Facilities As part of the Manhattan project, two different facilities were built to produce weapon-grade uranium and plutonium. The Manhattan Project was building two different types of atomic bombs, a uranium bomb and a plutonium bomb, because uranium was difficult to produce in quantities needed. Plutonium, an artificially manufactured element derived from uranium, could be produced in sufficient quantity but it needed a different kind of bomb detonation device. Uranium Production: Oak Ridge, Tennessee A huge gas diffusion plant was built to produce weapon-grade uranium. An extremely corrosive uranium hexafluoride gas was pumped through barriers that had millions of tiny holes. The lighter molecules

containing the needed uranium-235 were diffused faster than the heavier uranium-238 molecules. After the gas had been cycled through thousands of barriers it was “enriched” to a high concentration, 90 percent, of pure uranium-235. Plutonium Production: Hanford, Washington Nuclear reactors were built to provide the neutrons to produce plutonium from uranium. When the plentiful uranium-238 isotope is bombarded with neutrons, it changes into a new element. This new element changes into plutonium-239. Plutonium-239, like uranium-235, undergoes fission and can be used as bomb material. Producing plutonium-239 in large quantities requires an intense source of neutrons. Trinity Test Site, Alamogordo, New Mexico The first atomic bomb tested at Trinity on July 16, 1945 proved that the