Director of Manhattan Project

December 19, 2018
Is research director of
Then they checked in at 109 East Palace Ave. in Santa Fe where Dorothy McKibbin would make arrangements for everything from their luggage and household goods to their passes that would get them into the Secret City. Next, it was a 35-mile trip to the northwest, one that could take up to four hours, depending on the conditions of the dusty or muddy arroyos and the steep, winding mountain road.
Physicists, chemists, metallurgists, explosive experts and military personnel converged on the isolated plateau. At times, six Nobel Prize winners gathered with the other scientists and engineers in the weekly colloquia put on by Robert Oppenheimer. Meanwhile, the Army was charged with supporting the work, building buildings, keeping the commissary supplied, and guarding the top-secret work.
Hurriedly built, huge laboratory buildings sprawled along the south side of Ashley Pond. Rows of four-family apartments strung to the west toward the mountains. A few board sidewalks raised residents up out of the mud that was prevalent in winter when snow melted and in summers during the afternoon monsoons.
The obstacles that had to be overcome and questions that had to be answered before an atomic bomb could be built were numerous. The required amount fissionable material did not exist in the world. How would a nuclear explosion be triggered? What could be used to trigger it? What sorts of metals were needed for such a bomb? Could a nuclear explosion burn the atmosphere? Many even wondered whether the "gadget, " as it was called, would work. The scientists worked feverishly in fear that the Germans were developing a nuclear weapon and would have it ready before the United States.
The scientists and engineers labored on for two years. They carried out experiments in metallurgy and high explosives.image They scribbled mathematical calculations on chalkboards and cocktail napkins. They worked 10- and 12-hour days six days a week then sipped famously potent martinis at Oppenheimer’s home and played musical concerts in Fuller Lodge for relaxation. Meanwhile, enriched uranium and plutonium were developed in Oakridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington.
Finally, on July 16, 1945, at 5:30 a.m., an incredible burst of light exploded over the desert in south central New Mexico. Trinity, as the test shot was known, answered many of the questions the scientists had been asking. The bomb’s yield, equivalent of 18, 000 tons of TNT, astounded even the scientists who had spent years making painstaking calculations.
President Truman, meeting at Potsdam with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin, was informed of the successful test. Soon, he made the decision to use the remaining bombs in the U.S. arsenal on Japan.
Atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and on Nagasaki on August 9th. Five days later, the Emperor of Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender. World War II formally ended on September 2, 1945, when treaties were signed aboard the USS Missouri. The Manhattan Project, a mission to end the war through the use of atomic weapons, had accomplished its goal.
For more information on the history of the Manhattan Project, please see our shop for books like Los Alamos: Beginning of an Era, and more. Or visit our museum at 1050 Bathtub Row, next to Fuller Lodge, for even more books and information. Don't see what you're looking for? Please contact us
The Manhattan Project: Beyond the Bomb
The Manhattan Project: Beyond the Bomb
The Manhattan Project, part 1
The Manhattan Project, part 1
Why Robert Oppenheimer was a good choice for director of
Why Robert Oppenheimer was a good choice for director of ...
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