The Atomic Bomb: Scientific Triumph or Human Tragedy

The scientific triumph of the United States creating the first atomic bomb induced a human tragedy when in August of 1945, President Harry Truman, who was seeking a quick end to the war, used the bomb on the Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending the world war and initiating the age of atomic weapons . The concept of the atomic structure of matter first emerged in the fifth century B.C with Greek theory of minute particles. Following the Renaissance in Europe, scientists like Galileo and Newton supported the early concept, and in the nineteenth century, chemists transformed this atomic theory into a material reality. The scientific discoveries to explain the phenomenon of radioactivity opened the way for the modern development of atomic energy. The work of Rutherford, Chadwick, and others led to the concept of the atom as a miniature solar system, with a heavy positive nucleus orbited by much lighter electrons.

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     German scientists, Otto Hann and Fritz Strassmann’s discovery of the nuclear fission in 1938 made it a world changing discovery. When the results released, many physics like Leo Szilard realized that if a chain reaction of neutron collisions split enough uranium nuclei, then it would result in an immense power and an atomic bomb could be built. The fear from the thought that if the Nazis grasped the potential to built the bomb alerted some physics like Leo Szilard and Albert Einstein. They decided to warn President Roosevelt by writing a letter urging the president to take action, explaining the potential power of nuclear bombs and the possibility of Nazi Germany developing it. 


Roosevelt responded to the letter quickly. He formed the Uranium Committee which was a group of military leaders and scientists whom had concluded that enriched samples of Uranium-235 were necessary for further research. Finding the most effective method of isotope separation was a high priority. The President approved the National Defense Research Committee in June, 1940 under the directions of the scientist Vannevar Bush to coordinate, supervise, and conduct scientific research on the problems underlying the production of the atomic bomb. Although Americans were in contact with the British uranium committee, it was the July 1941 MAUD report that accelerated the United States atomic program.    


With the United States entering the war in December 1941 as a result of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S decided that building an atomic weapon would be its top priority. This operation was code named The Manhattan Project, and was assigned to the U.S CORPS of engineering with an initial budget of $10,000,000. Colonel Leslie Grooves was chosen to head it.

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The Atomic Bomb: Scientific Triumph Or Human Tragedy. (2019, Oct 30). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from

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