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Nuclear Weapons; History And Religion

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Nuclear Weapons; History and Religion

In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no

overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin;

and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.

J. Robert Oppenheimer (AJ Software and Multimedia. History of Atomic Bomb).

The most destructive weapons every created in the world that in seconds kill up to 200,000 people and destroy a area two mile wide was created not by generals but scientists. It forced people to look at religion for answers on the use of these weapons and how to deal with living in the nuclear age.

The science behind the nuclear weapon was in full force by July 4, 1934 when Leo Szilard was rewarded the patent for the nuclear weapon. Szilard explains in general critical mass and a system to start the reaction. He did this not for personal gain but because he realized the damage this could do and wanted to control it. He ended up giving it away to the British Admiralty in February 1936. This is the earliest of nuclear arms control.

The science of the fission started when the neutron was discovered by James Chadwick in Feb. 1932. This led to hundreds of new radioactive isotopes being discovered. The biggest problem discovered was the "Uranium Problem" in May 1934. During the Neutron bombardment of uranium a couple radioactive products are detected but could not identification or could it be explained.

This was first addressed by German, Ida Noddack, and she said the anomalous radioactivity produced was uranium splitting. This led to Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner solving the problem. They found that one of the radioactivities is a previously known isotope of barium. They then developed a theoretical interpretation of this demonstrated fact. They were able to show conclusive evidence of fission production of radioactive barium from neutron irradiated uranium. On January 13, 1939 Otto Frisch observed fission directly in ionization tube and coined the term "fission". On January 29, 1939 Robert Oppenheimer realizes excess neutrons must be emitted and a bomb could be possible if they could create a self-sustaining reaction. On February 5, 1939 Niels Bohr has an important insight into fission. He discovers that U-235 and U-238 have different fission properties. U-238 fissioned by the fast neutrons and not the slow neutrons. U-235 accounted for observed slow fission in uranium. You could not have a self-sustaining chain reaction with natural uranium. (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. The Manhattan Project)

At this time there were some key uncertainties to take this knowing information to make a weapon. The first is the number of neutrons emitted per fission to see if substance reaction could occur and the unknown cross sections for fission and absorption at different energies for the uranium isotopes. You need both sufficient excess of neutrons produced and the ratio between fission to absorption averaged needed to be large. There needed to be a better understanding of the differences of U-235 and U-238. The U-235 that was going to be needed to continue a reaction is only .71% of natural uranium. You would need some system to harvest just the U-235 out of the natural uranium. This would be called "enriched uranium". On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland starting WW2 and the arms race was started to create a working bomb.

The Manhattan Project was the project that will successfully created the atomic bomb but why create it. The reason for the starting of the Manhattan Project was the armed expansion of military dominated Japan. Japan invaded the Manchuria in September 1931 and then in July 1937 Japan invaded China. Also was the rise and expansion of |Nazi Germany. Hitler gains full power in March 1933 and he enacts the Nuremberg

Laws that begins the severe persecution of Jews. On top of this November 1937 The Axis Alliance is created by Germany, Japan, and Italy signing a treaty. All this happens because of the progress in fission a bomb was possible and Szilard was worried of an atomic bomb. Szilard and Albert Einstein write letter to FDR and warned of this possible problem on Oct 11, 1939. Ten days later first meeting of Advisory Committee on Uranium held is Washington DC.

Getting closer to a working bomb Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls in February 1940 create theoretical analysis of possible fast fission of U-235. They find a rough estimate of critical mass"a pound or two" and have a practical scheme for bomb design. This is followed by in July 1941 of plutonium being found to be most fissile material. By September 3, 1941 PM Winston Churchill helps starts British attempts of atomic bomb. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USA starts, on December 18, 1941, investigates into atomic weapon. The code name is the S-1 project. Later, the Army Corps of Engineers District to take over development of the weapon and called it "Manhattan Engineer District". It is later know as the Manhattan Project.

The Manhattan Project is truly started when on September 17, 1942 Col. Leslie Richard Groves takes over project. He has just finished over seeing building of Pentagon and is a no-nonsense leader that will push the scientist for results. Dr. Oppenheimer is to head Project Y. Project Y is built at Los Alamos, NM. Oppenheimer could lead scientist and worked well with Groves because they both say the importance of the work. There is a development of enriched uranium and plutonium through 1943. In the fall 1943 Project Alberta started. It is a project to start a weapon deliver, aircraft modification to carry, train flight crews to deliver the weapon. On July 4, 1944 Oppenheimer revealed spontaneous fission measurements to the staff. This was a turning point and progressing is fast. Groves can project a bomb will be ready by mid-spring in Aug 1944.

The Air Force starts modify B-29's to carry weapon. At the end of the year of 1944 Y-plant is producing enriched uranium and plutonium production begins. Starting of 1945 project "turned corner". Uranium bombs seemed sure in months and a plutonium bomb possible by August 1st 1945. Then during on April 12 Pres. Roosevelt dies. Pres. Truman learns of project and on April 27, 1945 the first meeting of Target Committee takes place. All targets are in Japan. By mid-May Little Boy bomb is ready except U-235 core. The U-235 should be ready by August 1st. By May 30, Hiroshima and Niigata are the only cities on target list because of the success of the war on Japan. Trinity is the first test of the first Atomic bomb and is successful on July 16 1945, 5:29:45 A.M.

"In that brief instant in the remote New Mexico desert the tremendous effort

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