Atomic Bomb and the Deciding Term Paper

  • Length: 20 pages
  • Sources: 10
  • Subject: Physics
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #63857653

Excerpt from Term Paper :

" The difference in the Manhattan Project and other companies that were very similar in function was due to the need to become quickly successful and investments of "hundreds of millions of dollars in unproven and hitherto unknown processes and did so entirely in secret. Speed and secrecy were the watchwords of the Manhattan Project." Gosling states that the "one overwhelming advantage" of the project's inherent characteristics because it became possible, under the cloak of secrecy to "make decisions with little regard for normal peacetime political considerations."

Gosling relates the following of the Manhattan Project:

The need for haste clarified priorities and shaped decision making. Unfinished research on three separate, unproven processes had to be used to freeze design plans for production facilities, even though it was recognized that later findings inevitably would dictate changes. The pilot plant stage was eliminated entirely, violating all manufacturing practices and leading to intermittent shutdowns and endless troubleshooting during trial runs in production facilities. The inherent problems of collapsing the stages between the laboratory and full production created an emotionally charged atmosphere with optimism and despair alternating with confusing frequency." (1999)

Bush claimed that production would be ready fro the bomb in 1945 however, the challenge was great. Gosling (1999) the work of Ragheb entitled: "First Human Made Reactor and Birth of Nuclear Age" states that the Oak Ridge Site was designed as site X and was where scientists "were isotopically separating the fissile U. isotope from natural uranium using electromagnetic separation in 194-inch cyclotrons called Calutoronts deriving from 'California cyclotrons'." (Ragheb, 2008) the "monumental white elephant designated as the Y-12 plant" is stated to have been the process of electromagnetic separation. It is noted that President Truman wrote of atomic devices:

We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesized in the Euphrates Valley Era after Noah and his fabulous Ark. This weapon is to be used against Japan. We will use is so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital or the new. The target will be a purely military one." (Ragheb, 2008)

It is stated that Szilard wrote a letter along with Einstein to President Roosevelt stressing that the bomb should be demonstrated to the Japanese prior to its actual use. It is related that the "yield of the Trinity test was about 19 kilotons (kT) equivalent of the high explosive Tri-Nitro-Toluene (TNT)." (Ragheb, 2008) the energy is only partially vested in the nuclear explosion itself which is inclusive of the "kinetic energy in the fission products, most of the energy of the prompt gamma rays, which is converted into other forms of energy within the exploding weapon primarily ionization and x rays, and most of the neutron kinetic energy, but only a small fraction of the decay energy of the fission products." (Rabheb, 2008)

Ragheb (2008) states that the decision to make use of the atomic bomb against two targets in Japan was "without prior demonstration or warning." Ragheb states that the reason this decision won out was the basis that lives of soldiers would be saved on both sides and the lives of Japanese civilians would be spared. There had already been massive loss of human life for both the Japanese and American armies. It is related, according to Amato, in the work of Daniels stated to be a "...newspaper editor well-versed in the power of the media..." that the role that Edison could play in public relations regarding the laboratory was crucial and specifically stating that such a department, "...will, of course have to eventually supported by Congress with sufficient appropriations made for its proper development... To get this support, Congress must be made to feel that the idea is supported by the people, and I feel that our chances of getting the public interested and back of this project will be enormously increased if we can have, at the start, some man whose inventive genius is recognized by the whole world to assist us in consultation from time to time on matters of sufficient importance to bring to his attention. You are recognized by all of us as the one man above all others who can turn dreams into realities and who has at his command, in addition to his own wonderful mind, the finest facilities in the world for such work." (Amato, 1996)

It is tempting and clearly reasonable to make the assumption that that this was an idea that was long in the making and in the marketing to the American public by those involved in the research of the atomic bomb. However strange this view might appear at this juncture rapid military science and technology were evolving and ominously was the large-scale use by Germany of chemical agents in warfare in April 22, 1915. It is stated that cylinders were released that held 168 tons each of "ground-hugging, yellow-green chlorine gas into the trenches on the Western Front in Ypres, France." (Amato, 1996) Casualties totaled 5,000 among Allies and it has "become a chemist's war, too. There would be no turning back-warfare and science had become inextricably connected." (Amato, 1996)

Amato relates that the Chemistry Division of the NRL "grew during wartime at a faster rate than any other division at the Laboratory. By 1945, it had grown from a prewar staff of about two dozen to strength of about 200 researchers distributed amongst 10 sections occupying four fully equipped buildings." (1996) Amato relates as well the basics in liquid thermal diffusion and states that this method was to put dissolved uranium hexafluoride into a column whose ends were kept at very different temperatures. Since those uranium hexafluoride molecules harboring the lighter U235 atoms diffuse slightly faster to the warmer side of the column than do those molecules with heavier uranium isotopes (mainly U238), the lighter molecules end up enriching on the warm side of the column. This U235 enriched solution then becomes the starting fluid for a next iteration in a diffusion tube and so on. In each cycle, the proportion of U235 (still forming the center of uranium-hexafluoride molecules) by the warm side of the column increases. In time, technicians would withdraw the uranium hexafluoride and then covert it into metallic uranium enriched in U235.." (1996)

Ableson was working on this for the NRL and Gunn, was drawn to the process "because it looked practical, the kind of process you could scale up to massive scales." (Amato, 1996) These two worked collaboratively. A pilot plant was constructed with "12 columns, each 48 feet tall" and represented the very first amounts of uranium that was slightly enriched and in substantial amounts." (Amato, 1996) This project was referred to as the 'little riverside project' by those in the know who had Laboratory clearance and it is related that the visit of colonel of the Army Engineers, Leslie R. Groves was both "unexpected" and "fateful."

Groves was in charge of the top-secret Manhattan Project that 'officially' began one day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Amato states that while neither the NRL or the Navy would play a role in the Manhattan Project, "liquid thermal diffusion remained the number one candidate for acquiring the material needed for nuclear propulsion..." which, incidentally is stated to have required enrichment than bombs. (1996) the Philadelphia plant came into being as well as did the plans for the construction at Oak Ridge,. Tennessee in 1944. Amato goes on to relate that much of the uranium isotopes "...embodied in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki [the Nagasaki bomb actually was plutoniumbased] bombs were processed by the Abelson-Gunn method," and testimony before the Special Committee on Atomic Energy of the U.S. Senate following the war related that the credit the Manhattan Project received was the shortening of the war 'by a week or more..." (Amato, 1996) While this might not sound like much time, in reality: "...a week of world war is different from a week of a world at peace. Just consider the human costs. Estimates of deaths during the roughly six years of World War II range up to 54 million for a weekly average of 180,000. The number of injuries was far greater. It is a strange calculus. After all, the number of Hiroshima and Nagasaki casualties due to the atomic bombs also reached into the hundreds of thousands. For the United States, at least, an earlier ending to World War II meant more lives saved and fewer families shattered by premature death and endless grief." (Amato, 1996)

Amato writes that following the test bomb being detonated by the Manhattan Project and those dropped of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the detonations that occurred above Bikini, one in…

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