Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Manhattan Project

This is an essay I wrote for a History Class, just thought I'd share it....

Ayokunle Falomo
Martha Donnell
History 1302
16th June, 2010

The Manhattan Project

     The Manhattan Project was a secret military project created in 1942 to produce the first US nuclear weapon ( According to “The New York Times”, Manhattan was the first headquarters of the nation’s secret effort to implement this during World War II. [Manhattan] also played major industrial and scientific roles because of its wealth of piers, warehouses, import firms, scientists, laboratories, schools, factories, engineering firms, Army units and thousands of workers (The New York Times).
     Apart from the considerable amount of American scientists that participated in this project, the assistance of European scientists were also engaged, prominently, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, and Leo Szilard. The whole project was directed by US physicist Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie R. Groves (

     Research and production facilities were put in place across the country, the three main ones at Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico. Each location provided different functions, the Oak Ridge Laboratories providing uranium-235, the Hanford location producing weapons-grade plutonium, and the Los Alamos Laboratory becoming the site for assembling nuclear weapons. (

     On July 16 of 1945, a test codenamed “Trinity” was carried out in New Mexico, at the Alamogordo Test Range, on the Jornada del Muerto, also known as Journey of Death desert, becoming the world’s first nuclear explosion. It was intended to prove the radical implosion-design plutonium device that had been developed at Los Alamos during the previous year (Nuclear Weapon Archive).

     After this was successfully carried out, Commanding General Carl Spaatz was ordered by the Acting Army Chief of Staff, Thomas Handy to bomb one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata, or Nagasaki as soon as weather permitted, some time after 3 August 1945 (Dept. of Energy). Soon after, Little Boy (the first atomic bomb ever used in combat which was a gun-type uranium-235 weapon, weighing up to 8,900 lbs) and Fat Man (the world's third atomic bomb weighing 10,300 lbs, which was a plutonium implosion device made using the same conceptual design used in the “Trinity” test) were dropped in Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9), respectively (

     Accounting for the Hiroshima casualties, this resulted in immediate deaths which were between 70,000 to 130,000, while some 35,000 to 40,000 persons die immediately from the Nagasaki incidence, resulting in a total of some 75,000 persons’ death from the bombing by the end of 1945 (

     Following the end of the World War II, many people supported President Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on these Japanese cities. Had I been alive at this point in time, I would have also supported his decisions, mainly for the popular reasons that it brought the end to the terrible war, and also it helped in reducing the cost and number of casualties that would have increased, assuming the decision to invade Japan was carried out.

     In the grand scheme of things, it is quite amazing to note that in less than a week, August 15th to be specific; Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers. If Japan did not surrender immediately after the bombing of its cities, then I would question President Truman’s decisions. However, since it yielded the desired results, Kudos! Although the situation surrounding this incidence is quite sad, this is just but another way History has desired to write itself!


Myne Whitman said...

Well reserched and written. You brought to for the mind-boggling nature of the project and it effectiveness. I'm sure you scored highly.

Fellow Writer (Ayokunle Falomo) said...

Thanks for your comment, && yes, I indeed did score high (96)...