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The Atomic Bomb

Uploaded by Admin on Jul 02, 1999

Background of the Atomic Bomb It was during the Second World War that the United States became a world power, thanks in a large part to its monopoly on atomic weapons. The atomic bomb is a weapon with great explosive power that results form the sudden release of energy upon the splitting, or fission of the nuclei of such heavy elements as plutonium or uranium. This new destructive force wrecked havoc on two Japanese cities and caused the end of World War II. It also saved thousands of American lives because a ground invasion of Japan was no longer necessary. The decision to create the bombs was that of United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt under a secret military project that was called The Manhattan Project. The Beginnings of the Manhattan Project In 1939, after German dictator Adolf Hitler invaded Poland, German scientists shocked the scientific world when they announced that they had split uranium atoms by man-made means for the first time. Upon hearing this news, a nuclear physicist, Leo Szilard, was convinced that a chain reaction of this process could be used as a weapon to release an awesome burst of power. Szilard knew that this knowledge was now in the wrong hands of the enemy Germans. On a July day in 1939 Szilard and his associate, Edward Teller, drove to the Long Island home of Albert Einstein to alert him of their findings. Einstein used his political influence by immediately writing a letter to President Roosevelt explaining the consequences of the Germans creating an atomic bomb. His letter read, "I believe, therefore, that is my duty to bring to your attention that it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new-like elements would be generated. A single bomb of this type, carried by a boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port, together with some of the surrounding territory." Two months passed before Roosevelt finally read the letter. He ordered a committee of scientists and military officers to meet Szilard and Teller to determine whether America was capable of building a nuclear bomb. In 1940, Szilard and Teller were granted a mere $6,000 to begin experiments in nuclear fission. The duo enlisted the help of the winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1938, Enrico...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   07/02/1999

Category:   American History

Length:   9 pages (2,056 words)

Views:   1573

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