Term Paper: Atomic Bomb

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¶ … Atomic Bomb and the Deciding Event in Persuading the United States to Pursue Development of Nuclear Weapons

The following research study is conducted through a qualitative review of literature relating to the Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb developed and use in World War II against Japan. Japan was a formidable enemy in that the Japanese were very gung ho and did not care nor see any value in compromise and it is the failure of the Japanese to attempt to compromise so that the war and the associated deaths could be ended as well that resulted in the United States making use of the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb development program was top secret therefore the program had been compartmentalized to lessen the chance of a security leak as there was great fear that another country, specifically German, Russia or Japan would acquire the knowledge of how to build the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Program was successful in creation and design and finally in the outcomes of the atomic bomb being dropped over Japan in that the war had finally ended. It is held by the writer of this work that the success of the Manhattan Project is much greater than merely the success of having won the war against Japan so many years ago and that in fact, the contributions of the Manhattan Project to science and other fields of study continue and continually evolve.



Statement of Thesis 5

Purpose of Study


Literature Review






The driving force behind use of the atomic weapon was a force that was similar to nuclear fission itself due to the complexity of the diverse commitment, energies, and effort focused into these endeavor. Universities were deeply involved in this endeavor and an entire segmented program in which none of the program sectors were aware of the research of other program sectors. German scientists were well aware of this information and agreed to come to the United States and join research with the United States. As well, research was an effort characterized by cooperation and collaboration among universities and various research sectors among the Manhattan Project's efforts. The entire cognitive citizenry of the United States was aware that a new age of military warfare was soon to come and the United States was collectively in the majority willing to affirm that since it was to happen the United States must be the first to accomplish the atomic bomb.


The work of Harry Lustig entitled: "To Advance and Diffuse the Knowledge of Physics" relates that America, early in history "was not a fertile land for physics of a Mecca for physicists." (nd) This lack of involvement in America by physicists lasted through two major wars, and specifically World War I and World War II - even though the "physicists war was smaller than World War II a significant part was played by both members and leaders in the physicists society in World War II which has been called by some to be the 'chemists' war. (1996, paraphrased)

The work of Ivan Amato entitled: "Pushing the Horizon: Seventy-Five Years of High Stakes Science and Technology at the Naval Research Laboratory" states that World War II became a showcase for the close marriage of engineering bravado with leading-edge basic science" which worked toward changing the rules. Amato states that the Manhattan Project "with its terrifying nuclear weapons...[was]...most emblematic of what could come of such a union." (1996)

The Naval Research Lab (NRL) was the site of the initiation f a program that was "top secret...with the prescient goal of developing nuclear propulsion for submarines. As a result, NRL became the first government laboratory to separate uranium isotopes, a first step to producing and harnessing nuclear chain reactions." (Amato, 1996) Amato relates that a New York Times Sunday Magazine article led to the creation of a research establishment headed by the military in Washington DC "that would soon change the world." It is reported that a belief was stated that the government should necessarily "...maintain a great research laboratory jointly under military and naval and civilian control. In this could be developed the continually increasing possibilities of great guns, the minutiae of new explosives, all the technique of military and naval progression without any vast expense... When the time came, if it ever did, we could take advantage of the knowledge gained through research work, and quickly manufacture in large quantities the very latest and most effective instruments of warfare."(Thomas Edison cited in the work of Amato, 1996)

The characterization of war on the part of Edison as being "...a matter of machines rather than men..." is stated of Amato to have been "the key to a potential compromise." (Amato, 1996) in fact, Amato relates that serving as the very "..."the foundation of success in modern warfare was not massive military expenditure and immediate mobilization of large standing military forces. Success would come instead through the unparalleled ability to quickly develop and manufacture the best and latest military technology via the kind of inventive insight and research that had become the modus operandi at a growing foster of science-based industrial laboratories." (1996)


This writer holds that in reality, the Manhattan Project represents in the American view to have been more success and resulted in more actual accomplishment due to the knowledge that arose from many sectors and sub-sectors of the project participants, which was one that ultimately benefited not only the United States and the entire world. Secondly, this writer posits that the atomic bomb used was for putting to an end a long and brutal war and thereby saving lives. The opponent, Japan, was unreasonable in its demands and the United States desired to put an end to this war and because of this was willing to use the atomic bomb against Japan.


The purpose of this study is to examine the work involved in the Manhattan Project and to attempt to disseminate whether that gained by the Manhattan Project or that of the development of the atomic bomb represents more achievement for Americans. Secondly, this work intends to show that the reason that the United States was willing to use the atomic bomb was because the war had gone on so very long, so many and died and the resources of the United States were running low just as was morale with tension heightening across the globe.


The methodology of this study is qualitative in nature and will be conducted through an extensive review of literature in this area of study and in field-specific literature including political, scientific, educational, and governmental historical literature.


The work of Gosling (1999) entitled: "The Manhattan Project: Making the Atomic Bomb" states of the atomic bomb that it was conceived in 1919 by Ernest Rutherford, a New Zealander, who, working in the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University in England "achieved the first artificial transmutation of an element when he changed several atoms of nitrogen into oxygen." (p.1) at this time the atom was believed to be in the nature of a "miniature solar system, with extremely light negatively charged particles called electrons in orbit around the much heavier positively charged nucleus." In 1939, news reached the United States of the "Hahn-Straussmann experiments and the Meitner-Frisch calculations..." Following this news the scientists in America began to participate in this study. The following figure labeled Figure 1 shows the organizational chart for the Manhattan Project.

Organizational Chart for the Manhattan Project

Source: Gosling (1999)

The theory of fission was advanced by Bohr and Wheeler in their theoretical work conducted at Princeton University while Columbia University Zinn and Anderson worked collaboratively with Fermi and Szilardin what was an investigation into the "possibility of producing a nuclear chain reaction."(Ibid; p.4) President Roosevelt was quite open to Uranium research in the United States and toward that end appointed Lyman J. Briggs, as director of the National Bureau of Standards, head of the Advisory Committee on Uranium which met for the first time on October 21, 1939." It was the conclusion of scientists that "enriched samples of uranium-235 were necessary for further research and that the isotope might serve as a fuel source for an explosive device; thus finding the most effective method of isotope separation was a high priority." Just as World War II started in September, 1939 as the Germans invaded Poland "Vannevar Bush, president of the Carnegie Foundation" held that it was absolutely necessary that the government "marshall the forces of science for a war that would inevitably involve the United States." A Uranium research committee was formed with the approval of President Roosevelt.

The Manhattan Engineer District, according to Gosling, "operated like any other large construction company. It purchased and prepared sites, let contracts, hired personnel and subcontractors, built and maintained housing and service… [END OF PREVIEW]

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