History

History

This section provides an overview of the history of the Manhattan Project, the key organizations involved, the science behind the bomb, and more.
The Nagasaki survey team, including Japanese interpreters and guides

Surveys of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Manhattan Project members participated in early missions to survey the two atomic bombing sites—Hiroshima and Nagasaki—after the Japanese surrender in August 1945.
Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard working on the famous letter

The Einstein Letter - 1939

In 1939, Albert Einstein sent FDR a letter urging the US conduct research into an atomic bomb.
The Dampierre Nuclear Power Plant in northern France

The French Atomic Program

Often overshadowed by the achievements of the United States and the Soviet Union, France became the fourth country to possess nuclear weapons after its first test in 1960. While development was slowed by the impact of World War II, the achievements of early French research were critical for nuclear development worldwide. With nuclear secrecy strictly enforced by the United States during the Cold War, France independently developed its nuclear program and proliferation became a part of French national identity.

J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves after the Trinity Test

The Unlikely Pair

General Leslie Groves and J. Robert Oppenheimer were a study in contrasts, yet both were key to the Manhattan Project's success.
The famous photo of the Trinity test, taken by Jack Aeby.

Trinity Test -1945

At 5:29:45 on July 16, 1945, "Gadget" exploded and the Atomic Age began.
Tsar Bomba (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Tsar Bomba

On October 30, 1961 the Soviet Union detonated the largest nuclear device in human history. The weapon, nicknamed Tsar Bomba, yielded 57 megatons of TNT, four times larger than any nuclear device tested by the United States.
Ryerson and Eckhart Halls at the University of Chicago. Photo courtesy of Britannica.

University Partners

In the late 1930's and early 1940's, the vast majority of scientific research was conducted at colleges and universities across the US.
A billet of uranium

Uranium

By 1938, the confused chemistry of uranium became the "topic of the day" at laboratories everywhere.
The USS Indianapolis before the war

USS Indianapolis

The USS Indianapolis was a US Navy cruiser that delivered the components of the Little Boy atomic bomb to Tinian Island. It was later sunk by a Japanese submarine in what became the worst naval disaster in US history.

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