5-6Page Paper - The Manhattan Project

5-6Page Paper - The Manhattan Project - The Manhattan...

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The Manhattan Project: Unleashing Nuclear Devastation Derek W. Johnson History 106H Dr. Alpern March 25, 2008 “On my honor, as an Aggie, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work.”
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“Hiroshima was no longer a city, but a burnt-over prairie. To the east and to the west everything was flattened. The distant mountains seemed nearer than I could ever remember… How small Hiroshima looked with its houses gone.” 1 These words from a Japanese survivor of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima must inspire some sort of emotion toward the cause of such devastation. Is the emotion disgust or awe, anger or pity, shame or gratitude? Before running off to crucify the members of the Manhattan Project for their responsibility in the creation of weapons of mass destruction, one must learn the full story behind the development and delivery of nuclear weapons, and the desperation that led to their use. The path toward atomic weaponry began in January of 1939 when Lise Meitner published his findings regarding the fission of a uranium atom. 2 This revelation inspired a rush to harness atomic energy. By March of 1941, Dr. Glen Seaborg and his team of researchers at the University of California had discovered an even more reactive element, plutonium. 3 The American military recognized the value of a nuclear bomb for annihilation or intimidation, and in June of 1942, President Roosevelt approved their proposition to form a developmental department. 4 Thus, on August 11, 1942, the Manhattan Engineer District (MED) was formed under Colonel James C. Marshall. 5 In September, newly-promoted Brigadier General Leslie R. Groves arrived on the scene. Groves was given complete control of the project, and Marshall was promoted and moved overseas. 6 Groves wasted no time in organizing the project and building plants and research facilities in which to operate. He appointed Lieutenant Colonel K. D. Nichols as his right-hand man to help with the administration. 7 Groves then began construction on three separate Manhattan Project facilities. The first was a uranium refining plant located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. 8 The second installation was a plutonium manufacturing plant in Hanford, 2
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Washington. 9 The final base of operations was the project’s research and development center, stationed in Los Alamos, New Mexico. 10 Each location was carefully chosen with regard to water supply, population, and access to transportation. For the position of director of the Los Alamos research center, mysteriously referred to as Project Y, Groves appointed Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. 11 Oppenheimer had begun working on the physics of an atomic bomb in June of 1942, at the request of Nobel Prize winner, Arthur Compton. 12
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5-6Page Paper - The Manhattan Project - The Manhattan...

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