The first intense race for the atomic bomb began in the United States of America. The Manhattan Project was a top secret undertaking of the U.S. government to construct a nuclear weapon. This idea was sparked amidst the turmoil of World War II and upon the learning of the German attempts to create such a weapon. The entire operation was entitled "The Manhattan Project" due to the bulk of research completed in the Manhattan Engineer District of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The ultimate goal of the Manhattan Project was to create a chain reaction on an atomic level and harness the released energy to produce a viable weapon
General Leslie Grove was chosen to lead the project in 1942. Robert Oppenheimer was appointed to lead the day-to-day running of the operation at the weapons laboratory located at Los Alamos, NM. By 1945 the project had nearly 40 laboratories and factories spread throughout the country. The total cost of the Manhattan Project was two billion dollars, which is the approximate equivalent of twenty-six billion dollars today. Enrico Fermi built a reactor in Chicago during the early 1940's. The result of all the nuclear reasearch was the successful first detonation of an atomic bomb, code named "Gadget," at Alamogordo, NM on July 16, 1945 at 5:29:45 Mountain War Time. Mission Accomplished.
The term "Manhattan Project" has now become synonymous with an effort involving vast resources and the best scientific minds in the world. The physicists dedicated themselves to developing a weapon that would eliminate the threat to U.S. national security. In 1939, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr argued that building an atomic bomb "can never be done unless you turn the United States into one huge factory." Years later he told his colleague, Edward Teller, "I told you it couldn't be done without turning the whole country into a factory. You have done just that." Even though there was no conscious effort by the American people, the entire country pooled together all of its resources to achieve a unique goal.
This specific page was last updated on: 01/04/2000 at 10:50pm EST