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The Manhattan Project and its Lasting Effects

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Crosby Wheeler

on 3 December 2013

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Transcript of The Manhattan Project and its Lasting Effects

The Manhattan Project and its Lasting Effects

Beginnings of the Manhattan Project
During the Second World War the Allied and Axis powers were locked in an arms race centered around the development of the first nuclear weapons.
A letter was written in 1939 by Leó Szilárd to President Roosevelt informing him of the advancements in nuclear fission made by German researchers.
The letter, also signed by Albert Einstein, urged the president to initiate research into the field as well.
Roosevelt promptly initiated the Manhattan Project. This was before the United States had entered the war.
The Manhattan Project
The project was supervised by a large group of predominantly physicists and chemists including, but certainly not limited to:
Albert Einstein
Neils Bohr
J. Robert Oppenheimer
James Chadwick
James Franck
Richard Feynman
Enrico Fermi
The first testing took place on July 16th, 1945 in a bombing facility in New Mexico.
Bomb Site Before
Mushroom Cloud at Trinity
Bomb Deployment
Two different types of bombs
Uranium based-Little Boy
Plutonium based-Fat Man
Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945
Fat Man was deployed over Nagasaki
Hiroshima
Little Boy was dropped first onto Hiroshima.
The detonation killed roughly 140,000 people out of a population of 350,000.
Nagasaki
Fat Man was deployed after Little Boy onto Nagasaki, which was not a primary target.
Blast from Fat Man killed an estimated 87,000 people in Nagasaki.
Radiation
Radiation from the bombs' nuclear energy accounted for 15% of the total energy released from the blast.
5% was immediate and was released instantaneously.
10% was residual and stayed in the area of the blast site.
Residual radiation spread up to 30 kilometers away from the explosion.
Radiation Effects
Radiation released from the atomic bombs caused chromosomal mutations in the cells of surviving organisms.
These radiation-induced mutations caused affected organisms to develop diseases like myeloma, lymphoma, and leukemia.
Myeloma
: a malignant tumor of the bone marrow
Lymphoma
: cancer of the lymph nodes
Leukemia
: a malignant, progressive disease in which the bone marrow and other blood forming organs produce increased numbers of abnormal leukocytes. These suppress the production of normal blood cells, leading to anemia and opportunistic infections.
Leukemia
There are five different variations of Leukemia.
CML=chronic myelogenous leukemia
AML=acute myeloid leukemia
ALL=acute myelogenous leukemia
ATL=adult T-cell leukemia
CLL= chronic lymphocytic leukemia
CML was the only type with sufficient evidence that it was caused by radiation from the bombs.
Registries
Establishments were set up that required survivors in Nagasaki and Hiroshima to register for medical examinations in order to observe the radiation induced diseases and mutations and provide information on the subject.
They were set up because physicians had noticed an outrageously high number of cellular mutations leading to tumors among atom bomb survivors.
Registries cont.
Registries were established in 1952, about 7 years after the bombs were dropped.
It was concluded that the radioactive energy released from the nuclear weapons, when confronted with organic matter, caused the living cells of organisms to develop chromosomal mutations.
These mutations caused the mutated cells of survivors to reproduce cancerous cells.
Evidence and Results
By 1988 the registries concluded that roughly *90% of the bomb survivors* had developed some form of radiation-induced myeloma, lymphoma, or leukemia.
*This includes survivors killed by one of these conditions between December of 1945 and 1988.
*This includes fetuses in utero at the time of the explosions.
*This statistic does NOT include offspring conceived by affected survivors, though many of the offspring did aquire some of the chromosomal mutations, which later led to one of the conditions.
Energy Released
The energy from the explosions was released in three different forms.
Heat accounted for 35%
The "blast" (kinetic energy) accounted for 50%
Radiation accounted for 15%
Social Implications
From the very beginning of the Manhattan Project new social and moral issues were made apparent by this new technology.
The bombs were originally intended for Berlin to end the War in Europe and target Adolf Hitler.
When the creators of the bomb learned of Hitler's death, they made a petition pleading President Truman not to use the bombs because of the unavoidable consequences and moral implications related to weapons of this caliber
More Social Implications
By ignoring the warnings of the bombs' developers President Truman is [arguably] responsible for all the deaths caused by both the explosions and radiation from the bombs.
During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union both had obtained the technology to develop nuclear weapons, so during the arms race an even more powerful weapon was developed in order to out weaponize each other.
The result was the hydrogen bomb, a weapon that is 700 times more powerful than the bombs used in WWII.
Despite the many positive effects of this new technology, foremost of which were the development of nuclear energy and the ending of WWII, many of the leading developers of the atom bomb regretted their involvement in the Manhattan Project.
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” - Albert Einstein
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