HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB.
In 1939, at Einstein’s insistence, President Roosevelt formed a committee to oversee Atom Bomb research. The Congress appropriated $6,000 for the program.
In 1942 Dr. John Oppenheimer (a German immigrant) was named director of the Atomic Research Laboratory.
Oppenheimer’s team consisted of:
· Hans Albert Bethe (German)
· Enrico Fermi (Italian)
· Willard Libby (American)
· William Penney (British)
· Leo Szilard (Hungarian)
· Harold Urey (American)
The central question in developing the bomb was the critical mass of (U-235) enriched uranium. It was felt that too little uranium and the neutrons would escape without producing a chain reaction. Too much uranium might cause a massive chain reaction that would destroy
Los Alamos and its
5000 employees. There were even some
scientist that questioned whether the chain reaction could actually be controlled
or might it initiate an event that would destroy the earth.
July 16, 1945
The bomb was six feet long and two feet in diameter, weighing 4 tons. Using plutonium 239 the bomb exploded atop a 100 foot steel tower with a force of 20,000 tons of TNT. The steel tower was instantly vaporized and one mile of desert sand was turned to glass. The concussion from the blast was felt ten miles away and a mushroom cloud was produced that extended 40,000 feet into the atmosphere.