The history of the atomic bomb began with the Manhattan Project. It was tasked to create the bomb beginning in 1939. The scientists who invented the bomb included Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller, Rudolf Peierls and many others.
The Origin of the Manhattan Project
Its roots lay in a letter Albert Einstein sent to President Franklin Roosevelt. On August 2, 1939, Einstein sent a letter to the US President stating the Germans were trying to enrich uranium 235. This process would allow them to build an atomic bomb.
This led to Roosevelt’s decision to create the Manhattan Project. To purify the uranium, a research center was set up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Some of the scientists that figured in this process were Harold Urey and Ernest Lawrence.
Testing and the Aftermath
Throughout the development and history of the atomic bomb, over $2 billion was spent on the project. Besides Oppenheimer, Peleris and Teller, other scientists participated. These included David Bohm, Leo Szilard, Neils Bohr and Eugene Wigner. Otto Frisch, Felix Bloch, Emilio Segre, James Franck, Klaus Fuchs and Enrico Fermi also took part in the Manhattan Project. The headquarters was in Los Alamos.
The project spanned the whole of World War II. The testing day came on July 16, 1945. The gadget (as it was known) was detonated at exactly 5:29, July 16, 1945. The location was the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico. The bright light became orange and then turned into a reddish color. Moving upwards at 360 ft per second, the mushroom cloud appeared at 30,000 feet.
Records on the history of the atomic bomb show radioactive glass was created on the ground were it exploded. The explosion was so bright a blind person saw the flash a hundred miles away.
Oppenheimer would go on to say “I am become death”. After the testing, a majority of the scientists voiced their opposition to its usage. They made petitions pleading that it not be used. Their protests were ignored.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 1945
The atomic bomb dropped was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The bomb was called Little Boy and it was released by the Enola Gay. It was dropped at 8:15 AM and hit the ground with tremendous force.
The history of the atomic bomb shows 66,000 were killed at that moment. Over 70,000 were injured. An area of 1 mile in diameter was completely destroyed. Everything was vaporized or burned. Two miles away there was also heavy damage.
On August 9, 1945 another atomic bomb (plutonium type) was dropped in Nagasaki. Over 25,000 people were killed in an instant. Despite this fact, the two bombs actually used less than a tenth of 1 percent of their power. A day later, Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces.
The bombs didn’t just end World War II. It also ushered in the age of atomic and nuclear warfare. The development and history of the atomic bomb would lead to the creation of even more destructive weapons of mass destruction.