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THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT WHICH CONTRIBUTED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ATOMIC BOMB

THE CHAIN REACTION BOMB

Atomic bomb imagined
The New York Press reports: "New hope for releasing the enormous stores of energy within the atom has arisen from German scientists". World famous Niels Bohr of Copenhagen and Enrico Fermi of Rome, both Nobel prize winners, acclaim this experiment as one of the most important in recent years. Fermi now realized that his new element 93 had been a product of splitting the uranium atom. At this time the release of nuclear energy was at once recognized for its potential use in an explosive weapon. Fiction was soon becoming fact (Yass 20).

Fear of Nazi Germany
Otto Hahn writes a paper to Fermi stating that: "if technology to split uranium was discovered it would lead to the construction of bombs which would be extremely dangerous in general, and particular in the hands of certain governments". Everyone knew which government he meant. This was a chance the Nazis were not likely to overlook. At this time Hitler stopped exports of uranium ore from nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and ordered every scientist in the field of physics, chemistry and engineering to drop all research and devote themselves to this work (Yass 21).

Fermi approaches the U.S.A with the help of Albert Einstein
Enrico Fermi, with his knowledge of Italian dictatorship, was desperate to convince Allied defence authorities of the dangers of Nazi Germany\'s work on nuclear fission. Fermi approached Einstein and Einstein signed a long letter to President Roosevelt calling for intensive research into a possible bomb: "Some recent work by E. Fermi and L.Szilard…leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the near future…It may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power…would be generated…It is conceivable that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed". It became evident that the enemy should not produce it first. Before Roosevelt read Einstein\'s letter in October, 1939, England and France had declared war on Germany. Despite the major breakthrough, and despite the war in Europe, President Roosevelt merely set up an Advisory Committee on Uranium. Two years passed before Roosevelt ordered intensive research (Yass 22).

British Progress (Maud Committee)
Meanwhile, in England, in 1939, work on atomic fission had gained a slightly better start. A Sunday Express journalist wrote that if a nuclear chain reaction could be produced, "the outpouring of energy would exceed anything ever known in the world. The uses to which it might be put are appalling. A nation at war might be able to wipe out another nation right off the face of the earth". Britain had a group of scientists which was code named the Maud committee which devoted their time to "the use of uranium for a bomb". They now believed they could "make an effective uranium bomb which…would be equivalent, as regards destructive effect, to 1800 tons of TNT., and would release large quantities of radioactive substances which would make places near to where the bomb exploded dangerous to human life for a long period". (Yass 23-25)

Hitler invades Russia / U.S.A and Britain join forces
German armies were sweeping everything before them. It became evident that Britain and America must join together in their research of creating a uranium bomb. The plant to extract uranium had been agreed to be to be set up in the U.S.A since England was vulnerable to German Air attack (Yass 26)

Japan attacks U.S.A
On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, this attack brought Japan and U.S.A into active war. The war reinforced the president\'s decision to back the atomic research (Yass 32).

THE MANHATTAN PROJECT

In January 1942, a British scientific mission boarded the submarine infested Atlantic. They were sailing to America to discuss the atomic fission project with their new Allies. Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt agreed to pool one others information, and work on equal terms. Henceforth, work on the bomb project would be pursued as a combined Anglo-American effort. The name chosen for this project was agreed to be the "Manhattan project" (Yass 33-35).

The "Secret City"
In September 1942 a site was found at Clinton in the Tennessee Valley. It later became known