On today's date, July 16 in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the first atom bomb is success- fully tested in Alamo- gordo, New Mexico. This was the end result of the Manhattan Project, which was the code name that was given to the efforts of the United States government to produce an Atom Bomb. Pictured above is a photo of the explosion.
Leó Szilárd and Albert Einstein Warn FDR
The effort had been going on for some years, ever since a letter written by the famed physicist Albert Einstein, and conceived by Einstein and the Hungarian physicist Leó Szilárd In 1939 was sent to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Einstein (below) and Szilárd came to the conclusion that the neutron-driven fission of heavy atoms could possibly utilized to create a nuclear chain reaction which could yield vast amounts of energy for electric power generation or... atomic bombs. In the letter, written on August 2, 1939, just one month minus a day that Hitlers' armies invaded Poland and began World War II. And the letter didn't hesitate to point fingers:
"I understand that Germany has actually stopped the sale of uranium
General Groves Assembles the Team
This led FDR to the conclusion that a committee of scientists needed to be formed in order to counter the Nazi threat. Initially the amount of $6,000.00 was granted toward this project, but with onset of war with Germany in December of 1941 this cap was removed. Brigadier
The Bomb is Assembled and Tested
Neither Groves nor Oppenheimer were pleasant taskmasters for the men working under them. Maj. General Kenneth Nichols called Groves "...the biggest sonovabitch I ever met in my life. I hated his guts and
by the ever mercurial Oppenheimer (right) who had been so inspired by the poetry of John Donne a poet of Elizabethan England. After an earlier delay Groves resumed the countdown. At the sixty second point, the scientists smeared suntan lotion on their faces, slipped on welding goggles, and huddled behind their sandbag shelters. And at 5:29 a.m. the detonation unleashed the explosive energy of about 22 kilotons of TNT (92 TJ). There was only one possible target left, as Germany was out of the war, and that was Japan. It was so used on Hiroshima (Aug. 6) and Nagasaki (Aug. 9, 1945), after which Japan finally surrendered. By March 1946, when Oppenheimer met President Harry Truman, he had long since decided that the use of the Atom bomb had been terribly wrong. "Mr. President, I have blood on my hands," To which Truman sternly replied "It'll all come out in the wash." After Oppenheimer had departed, Truman said to an aide: "Don't you bring that fellow around here again." Such are the vagaries at the intersection of politics and science.....
"Past Imperfect - History According to the Movies" Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1995.