Usage of Nuclear Technology During the World War 2

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The creation of the Atomic bomb was one of the most profound military, aswell as technological achievements of the twentieth century. Nucleartechnology has made it possible to have dependable electricity in our, aswell as many other countries. It also acts as a war deterrent in some ways,this is so because no one wants the world breaking out in Nuclear war fare.

It would surely bring an end to man kind as we know it. In this essay I amgoing to give a history of the Atomic Bomb, while supporting the abovethesis.

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It was during the Second World War that the United States decisively becamea world power. America achieved this World power status, thanks in a largepart to it’s monopoly on atomic weapons. The atomic bomb is a weapon withgreat explosive power that results form the sudden release of energy uponthe splitting, or fission, of the nuclei of such heavy elements asplutonium, or uranium ( This newdestructive force was so powerful that it brought an end to World War II.

Even though it brutally killed thousands upon thousands of innocentcivilians, it also saved thousands of American lives, because a groundinvasion of Japan was no longer necessary.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the decision to commit to the creationof the atomic bomb. The plan was known as the Manhattan project, and itwould forever change American history.

In 1939 the German dictator Adolph Hitler invaded Poland. During this yearGerman scientists also shocked the scientific world when they announcedthat they had split uranium atoms by man-made means for the first time.

Upon hearing this news, a nuclear physicist, Leo Szilard, was convincedthat a chain reaction of this process could be used as a weapon to releasean awesome burst of power. Szilard knew that this knowledge was now in theevil hands of the German enemies.

On July, 1939 Szilard and his long time associate Edward Teller, drove toAlbert Einstein’s Long Island home to pay him a visit. Upon hearing thenews that a uranium atom had been split he immediately wrote a letter topresident Roosevelt. In this letter Einstein explained the mass destructivepowers of the bomb as well as what could happen if it got into Hitler’shands (Giovannitti). Two months later when Roosevelt actually read theletter he ordered a committee of scientists and military officers to meetSzilard and Teller to determine whether America was capable of building anuclear bomb. In 1940, Szilard and Teller were granted a mere $6,000 tobegin experiments in nuclear fission. The duo enlisted the help of thewinner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1938, Enrico Fermi.(Giovannitti)Since much of the United States’ early nuclear research had been conductedat New York’s Columbia University, the federal government assigned theManhattan District of the Army Corps of Engineers to construct the primaryresearch and production facilities for the project. The “Manhattan Project”became the code name for the atomic-bomb development program.

In 1942 the Manhattan Project was moved to chicago. The laboratory wasactually set up underneath the bleachers, of the University of Chicago,foot ball stadium. The turning point of the project occurred in this labunderneath the bleachers, the first nuclear chain reaction had beencreated.(Stein, R. Conrad,) The reaction was tested on December 2, 1942when they built a graphite nuclear reactor the size of a house. Theexperiment was conducted by the pulling of a rod that was attached to thereactor. The meter on the counting machine continued to ascend until itreached the highest point. The rod was then pushed back in before thereactor exploded, which could of possibly taken out a large portion ofChicago.This experiment confirmed that an Atom bomb could be made. Szilardwas recorded telling Fermi that,”This is a black day for mankind.

The successful experiment brought a confidence to Roosevelt and he soonmade the Manhattan Project his top priority. The project’s focus was thenchanged from splitting atoms to the actual creation of the bomb. Roosevelthad now invested over $2,000,000,000 into the project( The Manhattan Project’s team consisted ofthe nations smartest mathematicians, as well as it’s most highly trainedand bright technical people. Twelve of the team members were actually nobelprize winners.

Roosevelt now felt as though he was in a race with Hitler to create theNuclear bomb, and he was very intent on winning this race. The evidencethat Hitler had begun making the Atomic bomb came when the Germans tookover a heavy water plant in Norway( Heavy water contains deuterium which isvital part of the bomb making process. American spies also reported thatGermans were mining Uranium inCzechoslovakia( This news evidence washighly disturbing. No one wanted a mad man such as Hitler having control ofa Nuclear bomb.

The Manhattan Project was surely one of the most dedicated and ingeniousprojects in American history. Considering all that was put into theproject, it was quite a masterpiece of science. The project called for theprocessing of the extremely rare element uranium, as well as the use ofgiant machinery that was needed for the bomb’s development. The bomb’sdesign and construction was like putting together a puzzle that had neverbeen solved before. Work on the project wasconducted in thirty-seven installations, spread over thirteen differentstates. There were actually two towns that were created in order to producethe material that would fuel the bomb (Hanford, Washington; and Oak Ridge,Tennessee). By 1945 Oak Ridge had been transformed from an isolated valleyholding a few farms into the fifth largest city in Tennessee. (Stein, R.

Conrad,)The actual design and construction of the bomb was carried out at anothernew town: Los Alamos, New Mexico. Prior to the war Los Alamos had been atiny ranch used as a boy’s school. Houses and buildings were swiftlyerected at Los Alamos. Soon the town had its own newspaper, schools and apopulation of four thousand. Los Alamos residents consisted mainly ofscientists and their families. J. Robert Oppenheimer was the head of theLos Alamos project. (Stein, R. Conrad,)He worked on some nuclear research at Berkley and was assigned to directProject Y. Project Y was the actual designing of the bomb. It wasOppenheimer’s idea to use the Los Alamos location as the design laboratory.

As this was happening, General Leslie Groves had taken over generalmilitary command of the Manhattan Project. (Stein, R. Conrad,) Groves wasobsessed with keeping the work a secret and he had a small army of securityguards standing watch all over the plants and laboratories. Of a small armyof hundreds of thousands that took part in the creation of the Atomic bombonly a small group of them actually knew what they were building. The fewwho did know the goal of the project would often call the bomb a “gadget”,or a “gizmo” in conversation (Stein, R. Conrad,).

Allied armies stormed the beaches of France and began a very long march toGermany. This turning point in the war occurred in June 1944.

There was a top-secret unit that was traveling with the front-line forceson the march to Germany. This team was code named ALSOS. The ALSOS teaminvestigated research sites in Europe where American scientists believedGermans were making nuclear weapons. The ALSOS was soon blessed with goodnews (Herken, Gregg, The Winning Weapon,) . . Evidence was found thatGermany was not actively working on a bomb at all. Early in the war Germanyhad shown interest in nuclear bombs, but it later shifted its goals towardmaking rockets and jet aircraft. Hitler himself led his country away fromatomic weaponry by denouncing nuclear physics as a “Jewish Science.”On May 8, 1945. Germany had surrendered to the allies. A week earlier,Hitler had committed suicide in a Berlin bunker along with his new wife.

With the war in Europe over, Japan stood as America’s only enemy. SinceJapan was a nation near defeat in 1945 many Manhattan Project scientiststhought it would be inhumane to drop the bomb on a helpless nation. LeoSzilard wrote a letter to now President Truman, begging him not to use theweapon he helped create on Japan. Truman rejected his pleas by pointing outthat the battle at Okinawa cost the U.S. fifty thousand men killed, orwounded. Military experts estimated that by dropping the Atomic bomb Japanwould be forced to surrender, and a ground invasion which would likelyresult in over a million United States casualties would be avoided.(Stein,R. Conrad,)The Manhattan Project work was almost completed by July, 1945; they haddeveloped a working nuclear bomb.

The only obstacle that stood in their waywas the testing of the bomb. The test, was code name “Trinity” and itoccurred on July 16, 1945 in the New Mexico desert town of Alamogordo. Agroup of scientists and high-ranking military officials waited tensely in aconcrete bunker at five in the morning. It was said to be too dark to seethe hundred foot tall steel tower that housed the world’s first atomic bombnicknamed “Fat Man.” (Giovannitti)Scientist Isidor Rabi wrote as the countdown came to a close and the bombexploded. “It was the brightest light I have ever seen or that I thinkanyone has ever seen. It blasted; it pounced; it bored its way rightthrough you. It was a vision, which was seen with more than the eye. It wasseen to last forever. You wished it would stop….

There was an enormousball of fire, which grew, and it rolled as it grew: it went up in the airin yellow flashes and into scarlet green. It looked menacing. It seemed tocome toward me.” (Stein, R. Conrad,)The success of the Bomb left some mixed reactions; some were recordedcongratulating each other with pats on the back, while others just sat insilence, most likely scared of what was to come. Robert Oppenheimer spoke apassage from the Bhagavad-Gita an ancient book of Hindu scripture: “Now Iam become death, the destroyer of worlds.”After receiving a full report of the test, President Truman decided thatdropping the bomb would be the only way to save American soldiers. Althoughsome historians believe that an ulterior motive was to impress the Soviets;Truman claimed he was looking out for the future of the United States.

“Stein, R. Conrad, Cornerstones of Freedom”It was August 6, 1945, and a single B-29 bomber named Enola Gay took offfrom Tinian Island, about fifteen hundred miles south of Japan. The bomberwas jam-packed with one whale-shaped bomb that weighed about nine-thousandpounds and nicknamed “little boy.” Far ahead of the Enola Gay, a scoutplane reported that there was little cloud cover the Japanese city ofHiroshima, which was the primary. In the city men and women jammed thestreets for work and school, just going about their dayly lives. (Wyden,Peter, Day One) At precisely 8:15 A.M. the B-29 dropped its bomb. Sevenhundred yards above Hiroshima, the bomb exploded like a huge flashlight.

The blast killed seventy thousand residents, many of whom were instantlyincinerated.

If this wasn’t enough carnage, a second atomic bomb was dropped onNagasaki, three days later killing forty thousand more people. In thefollowing months the deaths’ tolls from the two bombings continued toclimb. The bombs released poisonous radiation that caused leukemia andother diseases to sky rocket. Every single person in Japan felt the bomb’sblow, if not physically then emotionally. Not even the Manhattan Projectscientists could have foreseen that their creation would have deadly long-term effects. Even today Hiroshima and Nagasaki residents are dying ofsicknesses caused from the toxic blasts of 1945.

On August 14, 1945, just five days after the Nagasaki blast, Japan agreedto American terms of surrender. The atomic bombs manufactured by theManhattan Project had helped to win World War II; however, the bombs guidedthe world into a nuclear age. Since the first test millions of people havewondered whether nuclear weapons would bring the end of life to ourplanet.( That question was first raised on the NewMexico desert in 1945 when a scientist remarked, “I am sure that at the endof the world- at the last millisecond of the world’s existence-the last manwill see something very familiar to what we have seen today.”The immense power of the Atomic bomb can make and destroy nations. Nucleartechnology has continued to flourish, and there are now bombs that arethousands of times stronger then the ones dropped in Japan( If a world war were to break outwhere nuclear nations shot atomic missiles at each other, a possible resultwould be the end of civilization. Albert Einstein once said,'”On theassumption that a Third World War must escalate to nuclear destruction, Ican tell you that the Fourth World War will be fought with bows and arrows”(Albert Einstein).

If a Nuclear war did break out, the smoke from the monumental explosionswould block out so much of the sun’s light that there would be asignificant temperature drop. Crops would be adversely affected by both thelower temperatures, as well as the lack of sun needed for plant growth.

Almost 60% of the earth’s population would die from starvation while theremaining people would suffer through the exponentially raised cancercases, as well as the dreadful nuclear winter. Embryos in the womb wouldalso be instantly killed by the blast, or else suffer horrible birthdefects, as seen after the Hiroshima bombing.

Although the creation of nuclear technology was no doubtedly a turningpoint in modern war fare, it is equally significant in today’s industrial,technological and productive world. Nuclear technology has provided theworld’s people with a reliable, and when compared to other energy sources,environmentally friendly source of electricity. Today Nuclear power is athriving global industry. In the world there are a total of 441 nuclearpower plants operating around the world. These 441 plants supply more then16 percent of the world’s electricity. There are also over 33 plants thatare currently under construction. ( On a nationalscale nuclear energy is America’s number one source of emissions freeenergy, supplying about twenty percent of our nation’s electricity. Theonly energy source that produced more electricity then nuclear power wascoal.

Nuclear technology does not only bring electricity to American families, itbrings a security to National energy. Nuclear energy is dependable, andunlike other fuel sources, it is not dependent on the weather, or climatein any way. It is also not subjected to unpredictable cost fluctuations, ordependent on foreign suppliers.

Nuclear power is no doubtedly a force to be reckoned with. There is noother thing in the world that can be so efficient and yielding, while atthe same time the most destructive thing to be created on earth. Nuclearpower plants bring so much electricity to so many people while a nuclearwar could mean the end of civilization as we know it. I hope that ourworld’s Nations will learn that nothing is worth nuclear war, and it mustbe avoided at all costs. ‘An eye for an eye and the world will soon beblind’ (Mahatma Ghandi)

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