This section provides an overview of the history of the Manhattan Project, the key organizations involved, the science behind the bomb, and more.

The Radium Girls

The tragic story of the "radium girls" had an important impact on the Manhattan Project.
The S-1 Committee in 1942: Harold Urey, Ernest Lawrence, James Conant, Lyman Briggs, Edgar Murphree and Arthur Compton

The S-1 Committee

In the years before the formal establishment of the Manhattan Project, physicists across the United States conducted research on the atom in response to growing interest and discoveries of its secrets. As early as 1939, the U.S. government began to organize and fund nuclear research.

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


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.
A worker at Hanford

Who Built the Atomic Bomb?

The US accomplished what other nations thought impossible. How did the United States achieve the remarkable feat of building an atomic bomb?