The creation of the atomic bombs is one of the most important historical events in the field of weaponry. Don't you think you should know some of the history behind this tremendous making of history? In my research paper, you will not only learn about the creation of the atomic bomb, you will learn about who the United States used it on first and why, who lead the project and go into great depth about him, and you will also see loads of pictures of the two first atomic bombs (and a virtual reality video of the two atomic bombs). Before I began my project, I will give you a little background information on how the atomic bomb works.
When a special type of uranium is pushed together quickly with neutrons, it's nucleus splits into two pieces, releasing energy. When this happens, it also frees other neutrons, which then collide with the nearby uranium atoms, making the atoms split. If there is enough uranium, this process of splitting atoms keeps happening until all the uranium atoms have been split. This only takes a fraction of a second to occur. The results of this process are a nuclear chain reaction that releases amounts of energy never thought possible to be created in one explosion.
The special type of uranium needed for the a-bomb was U-235. This uranium only exists in tiny amounts in uranium that is dug up from the earth. Getting the U-235 from the uranium dug from the ground was a very hard and expensive procedure, so there wasn't a lot of U-235. Infact, no one was sure on how to get U-235 in large amounts. Some scientists believed that the amount of U-235 need to make an a-bomb was about two tons, so it would be useless to try and build an atomic bomb because it would cost too much money and by the time the first atomic bomb was built, World War II would be over. But later on, a scientists realized that the a-bomb could be made with a lot less than two tons of U-235, so now Germany and the U.S. were in a race to make the first atomic bomb.
Atomic bomb research started in the U.S. when fears of German physicists creating anatomic bomb from uranium. Since World War II was going on and the U.S. was against Germany, the U.S. feared that the German would create this bomb and deploy it on the U.S., killing thousands of innocent Americans. Another thing that brought the U.S. to try to make it " sown atomic bomb was a letter to President F.D. Roosevelt from Albert Einstein stating that it would be probable to create an atomic bomb if the U.S. picked the right person to head the project (you will see who this person is later on in my research paper). So the U.S. then decided to try and create an atomic bomb before the Germans had a chance to make one and use it against the U.S. The first people who started to research the atomic bomb were not funded by the government, so their findings were limited.
When the U.S. finally started doing research themselves, they also started to fund others in the U.S. who wanted to help. The U.S. created many places for research which remained secret to U.S. citizens that were not involved with the research. But when one of the physicists researching the atomic bomb realized that the most efficient way to work more closely and in secret was to setup one single lab, with living places around it, where all the scientists, physicists, and all the other people in the project could live and do research. The physicist who came up with this idea was J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer was chosen for the project not because he was interested in the atomic bomb, he was chosen because he was widely recognized as an intelligent, pioneering physicists. He was also chosen to run the Los Alamos lab by Colonel Leslie Groves, despite his lack of leadership skills. Groves reason for choosing Oppenheimer to run the Los Alamos lab was "we (are) not going to find a better man". When the Los Alamos lab was built, all the people involved with the atomic bomb, physicists, mathematicians, chemists, engineers, skilled metalworkers, and every type of person needed to create such a complex weapon, were moved there, along with their families. Pretty soon, 120,000 people were involved in the project (in the Los Alamos lab, other labs around the country, and in factories around the U.S. ). While they were there, Oppenheimer often entertained the other scientists working on the atomic bomb at his own home.
Oppenheimer also had to keep all the physicists working together despite all their different personalities. The biggest problem the physicists faced in the making of the atomic bomb was how to reach critical mass. Critical mass means bringing two pieces of uranium together fast enough to create a chain reaction and produce an explosion. Another problem they faced was the time it took to refine uranium to the required purity. The process of purification took place in two factories in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington, but the process wasn't moving as fast as expected. But by the Summer of 1945, all the problems had been solved and the atomic bomb was ready for testing.
The first test of in the United States took place on July 16 on the Alamogordo Bombing Range. At 5: 30 a.m. the bomb was launched on the range. When the bomb detonated, it set of fa flood immense white light and an extremely loud noise. This caused a ball of fire to raise a tremendous cloud of sand and debris 40,000 feet into the air. While watching the explosion from five miles away, Oppenheimer remembered two lines from the Bhagavad-Gita, the Hindu sacred text that said something like the "radiance of a thousand suns" and the other line said "I am become death, the shattered of worlds".
Like others watching the test, his feelings were a mixture of pride in the success of their work, terror at the bomb's tremendous strength, and anxiety about what it meant about the future. Now that the Atomic bomb was ready for use in the war, the U.S. was ready to deploy it against the Germans, but they had already surrendered and the war in Europe was over. But now the U.S. had a new use for the a-bomb. It was Japan. Japan was still in the war, regardless of their major losses.
They were determined to stay in the war regardless the odds. Oppenheimer met with three other scientists to discuss wether the U.S. should use the atomic bomb against Japan to make them surrender. The alternative to the bomb was to send U.S. troops to Japan which would cost many U.S. troop's lives. But if the U.S. used the atomic bomb on a military target in Japan, it would certainly kill many Japanese civilians. Even though Oppenheimer would later regret his decision, he and other scientists said that the U.S. should use the bomb instead of invading Japan. The final decision was made by President Harry S. Truman to launch the bomb.
On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb, "Little Boy", which had a length of 10 feet, 6 inches, a diameter of 29 inches, weighed 9,700 pounds, and had a yield of 12.5 kilotons, was dropped on Hiroshima. As soon as the bomb was dropped, the city was destroyed. About 78,000 to 80,000 people were killed and about 60,000 buildings were demolished. On August 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb, "Fat Man", which had a length of 10 feet, 8 inches, a diameter of 5 feet, a weight of 10,000 pounds, and a yield of 22 kilotons, was dropped on Nagasaki.
This time the bomb killed 25,000 to 40,000 people. But that wasn't the end of the casualties, over the next few months, the radiation from the bombs caused sickness and killed thousands more people. On August 9, 1945, Japan surrendered, ending World War II. When the bombing of Hiroshima took place, that is the only time when the atomic bomb was made public.
When news of the bomb spread, people started calling Oppenheimer the " Father of the A-Bomb". The secretary of war Henry Stimson claimed that "the development of the bomb has been largely due to his [Oppenheimer] genius and the inspiration and leadership he has given to his associates". But Oppenheimer had very serious concerns with the bomb, and he wanted to be certain that it was only used to stop wars. After the war, he was asked to tell the government how to control and manage atomic energy and weapons.
In 1947, he was chosen to serve on the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission. This committee was created the year before when it was decided that atomic energy should be under the civilians control, not the governments. Oppenheimer was in this committee until 1952. In 1947, Oppenheimer was asked to be the director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. He accepted and he oversaw the development of this institute to a first-rate physics research center. Under his direction, the institute's population grew, many young scientists who enjoyed the exciting atmosphere of discussing new ideas and testing them, came to the institute.
While Oppenheimer worked there, he wrote and thought about atomic energy. He also lectured about the relationship between scientists and society.