Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph Blog The Manhattan Project That Changed the Course of Human Events – Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph's Blog

The Manhattan Project That Changed the Course of Human Events

Posted on 2016-10-15 By

The Manhattan Project was a top-secret American project to build the world’s first atomic bomb. World War II was already underway and the fear at the time was that the Nazis were building a bomb that would allow Hitler to win the war.

Three main research and production facilities were established at (1) Oak Ridge, Tennessee, (2) Hanford, Washington; and at (3) Los Alamos, New Mexico.

The decision to ultimately drop two bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945 became one of the most controversial issues of the 20th Century. Some questioned the necessity of their use, including American notables like Dwight D. Eisenhower, and whether the bomb shortened the war or even saved American lives. Nor has the debate subsided, and perhaps it never will, for ethics and science go hand in hand: just because we know how to do something doesn’t mean we should do it.

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For a brief overview of the Manhattan Project watch the Trinity Test videos.

Also watch this 56-min documentary entitled The Moment in Time about the events and the science that produced the two bombs that were eventually used against Japan in August of 1945.

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The U.S. Department of Energy was established during that period of time when the atomic bomb was developed and built, and without the Manhattan Project it would not exist, at least in the form that it does today. That project, for better or worse, clearly served as the “organizational model” for today’s top-secret and wide-rangingĀ  covert operations of the U.S. government both here and abroad.

FACT: The American public was wholly unaware of the existence of the Manhattan Project, despite its having a labor force and payroll, and an industrial complex that rivaled that of the automotive industry in its hay day.

In New Mexico alone, the Los Alamos complex encompassed 428,000 acres.The first atomic explosion in history took place there.

The project site in Oak Ridge, TN, home of K-25 and Y-12 uranium enrichment plants, originally housed a secret scientific community of 13,000 people as well as enormous complex research structures and prefabricated housing for workers. That 59,000-acre TN complex, which was located just 20-miles west of Knoxville, had a population that eventually reached 75,000. That city within a city was first known as “Site X.” Later it was changed to Clinton Engineer Works. And then after the war it officially became known again Oak Ridge.

The Manhattan Project remained classified for many years. It was so secret that Harry S. Truman, although vice president of the United States, was not made aware of its existence until after the death of Roosevelt in 1945.

This is a period in American and WWII history that every American should know about, and learn from.

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Manhattan Project Links
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Fifty Years From Trinity, a definitive educational site created by the Seattle Times to examine the development of the atomic bomb

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Manhattan Project Historical Resources includes histories, websites, reports and document collections, and exhibits.

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The Los Alamos Museum chronicles its role as the site for the development of the first atomic bombs

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Manhattan Project Signature Facilities associated with the Manhattan Project

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Biographical sketches of most of the key players of the Atomic Age

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A Report entitled The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the Manhattan Engineer District (June 19, 1946) that describes the effects of the atomic bombs that were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945

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A Petition to the President of the United States on July 17, 1945, drafted by Leo Szillard and signed by 68 members of the Metallurgical Laboratory in Chicago

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J. Robert Oppenheimer’s November 2, 1945 [Farewell Speech] to the Association of Los Alamos Scientists

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A Non-technical Report entitled Worldwide Effects of Nuclear War by the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (1975), aimed at balancing the many fear-induced speculations of the time with scientific knowledge

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The ALSOS Digital Library for Nuclear Issues provides an searchable and annotated bibiography of over 3,000 books, articles, films, CDs, and websites about a broad range of nuclear issues

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The Atomic Bomb Museum is a Japanese site that provides historical records of the Hiroshima bombing, including memoirs of survivors and documentation of the after effects of the bomb

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Videos from AtomicArchive.com that illustrate the tremendous effects of a nuclear explosion

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Photographs from AtomicArchive.com of key events in the atomic age

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The Price of the Manhattan Project, a Nuclear Secrecy Blog by Alex Wellerstein

 

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Select Books about the
Manhattan Project
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White Sands Missile Range by Darren Court, White Sands Missile Range Museum

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Making of the Atomic Bomb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning epic by Richard Rhodes

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Hiroshima by Pulitzer prize-winning author John Hersey

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109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos by Jennet Conant

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Atomic Tragedy: Henry L. Stimson and the Decision to Use the Bomb Against Japan by Sean L. Malloy

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Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of the Atomic Bombs Against Japan by J. Samuel Walker

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SCIENCE