Timeline of the Manhattan Project

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The Manhattan Project was a research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs during World War II. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The Army component of the project was designated the Manhattan District; "Manhattan" gradually became the codename for the entire project. Along the way, the project absorbed its earlier British counterpart, Tube Alloys. The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion (about $27 billion in 2017 [1] dollars). Over 90% of the cost was for building factories and producing the fissionable materials, with less than 10% for development and production of the weapons. [2] [3]

Manhattan Project research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs

The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory that designed the actual bombs. The Army component of the project was designated the Manhattan District; Manhattan gradually superseded the official codename, Development of Substitute Materials, for the entire project. Along the way, the project absorbed its earlier British counterpart, Tube Alloys. The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion. Over 90% of the cost was for building factories and to produce fissile material, with less than 10% for development and production of the weapons. Research and production took place at more than 30 sites across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Leslie Groves United States Army Corps of Engineers officer

Lieutenant General Leslie Richard Groves Jr. was a United States Army Corps of Engineers officer who oversaw the construction of the Pentagon and directed the Manhattan Project, a top secret research project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II.

Contents

Two types of atomic bombs were developed during the war. A relatively simple gun-type fission weapon was made using uranium-235, an isotope that makes up only 0.7 percent of natural uranium. Since it is chemically identical to the most common isotope, uranium-238, and has almost the same mass, it proved difficult to separate. Three methods were employed for uranium enrichment: electromagnetic, gaseous and thermal. Most of this work was performed at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In parallel with the work on uranium was an effort to produce plutonium. Reactors were constructed at Oak Ridge and Hanford, Washington, in which uranium was irradiated and transmuted into plutonium. The plutonium was then chemically separated from the uranium. The gun-type design proved impractical to use with plutonium so a more complex implosion-type nuclear weapon was developed in a concerted design and construction effort at the project's principal research and design laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Gun-type fission weapon fission-based nuclear weapon

Gun-type fission weapons are fission-based nuclear weapons whose design assembles their fissile material into a supercritical mass by the use of the "gun" method: shooting one piece of sub-critical material into another. Although this is sometimes pictured as two sub-critical hemispheres driven together to make a supercritical sphere, typically a hollow projectile is shot onto a spike which fills the hole in its center. Its name is a reference to the fact that it is shooting the material through an artillery barrel as if it were a projectile. Other potential arrangements may include firing two pieces into each other simultaneously, though whether this approach has been used in actual weapons designs is unknown.

Uranium-235 isotope of uranium

Uranium-235 (235U) is an isotope of uranium making up about 0.72% of natural uranium. Unlike the predominant isotope uranium-238, it is fissile, i.e., it can sustain a fission chain reaction. It is the only fissile isotope with a primordial nuclide found in significant quantity in nature.

Isotope nuclides having the same atomic number but different mass numbers

Isotopes are variants of a particular chemical element which differ in neutron number, and consequently in nucleon number. All isotopes of a given element have the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons in each atom.

The following is a timeline of the Manhattan Project. It includes a number of events prior to the official formation of the Manhattan Project, and a number of events after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, until the Manhattan Project was formally replaced by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1947.

Timeline way of displaying a list of events in chronological order

A timeline is one of many chronological lists of events. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labelled with dates paralleling it, and usually contemporaneous events; a Gantt chart is a form of timeline used in project management.

Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the use of atomic weapons by the United States on Japan towards the end of World War II

During the final stage of World War II, the United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively. The United States dropped the bombs after obtaining the consent of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement. The two bombings killed 129,000–226,000 people, most of whom were civilians. They remain the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of armed conflict.

United States Atomic Energy Commission former agency of the United States federal government

The United States Atomic Energy Commission, commonly known as the AEC, was an agency of the United States government established after World War II by U.S. Congress to foster and control the peacetime development of atomic science and technology. President Harry S. Truman signed the McMahon/Atomic Energy Act on August 1, 1946, transferring the control of atomic energy from military to civilian hands, effective on January 1, 1947. This shift gave the members of the AEC complete control of the plants, laboratories, equipment, and personnel assembled during the war to produce the atomic bomb.

Los Alamos Laboratory director Robert Oppenheimer (left), Manhattan Project director Major General Leslie Groves (center) and University of California president Robert Gordon Sproul (right) at the ceremony to present the laboratory with the Army-Navy "E" Award in October 1945 Army-Navy E Award.jpg
Los Alamos Laboratory director Robert Oppenheimer (left), Manhattan Project director Major General Leslie Groves (center) and University of California president Robert Gordon Sproul (right) at the ceremony to present the laboratory with the Army-Navy "E" Award in October 1945
Operators at their calutron control panels at Y-12. Gladys Owens, the woman seated in the foreground, did not know what she had been involved with until seeing this photo in a public tour of the facility fifty years later. Y12 Calutron Operators.jpg
Operators at their calutron control panels at Y-12. Gladys Owens, the woman seated in the foreground, did not know what she had been involved with until seeing this photo in a public tour of the facility fifty years later.
Replica of the Uranverein's German experimental nuclear reactor at Haigerloch captured by the Alsos Mission Haigerloch-nuclear-reactor ArM.JPG
Replica of the Uranverein's German experimental nuclear reactor at Haigerloch captured by the Alsos Mission
Explosive stack of the 100 Ton Test Trinity Test - 100 Ton Test - High Explosive Stack 002.jpg
Explosive stack of the 100 Ton Test
Video of the Trinity nuclear test
Aircraft of the 509th Composite Group that took part in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Left to right: backup plane, The Great Artiste, Enola Gay Agnew HiroshimaAircraft.jpg
Aircraft of the 509th Composite Group that took part in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Left to right: backup plane, The Great Artiste, Enola Gay
Casing of a Fat Man nuclear bomb, painted like the one dropped on Nagasaki Fat Man (National Museum USAF).jpg
Casing of a Fat Man nuclear bomb, painted like the one dropped on Nagasaki
Aerial view of the Operation Crossroads Able mushroom cloud rising from the lagoon with the Bikini Island visible in the background Operation Crossroads - Able 001.jpg
Aerial view of the Operation Crossroads Able mushroom cloud rising from the lagoon with the Bikini Island visible in the background

1939

Albert Einstein German-born physicist and developer of the theory of relativity

Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2, which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation". He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory.

Einstein–Szilárd letter Letter written by Leó Szilárd and signed by Albert Einstein sent to the US President Roosevelt on August 2, 1939

The Einstein–Szilárd letter was a letter written by Leó Szilárd and signed by Albert Einstein that was sent to the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 2, 1939. Written by Szilárd in consultation with fellow Hungarian physicists Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner, the letter warned that Germany might develop atomic bombs and suggested that the United States should start its own nuclear program. It prompted action by Roosevelt, which eventually resulted in the Manhattan Project developing the first atomic bombs.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

President of the United States (POTUS) is the title for the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

1940

John R. Dunning American physicist

John Ray Dunning was an American physicist who played key roles in the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic bombs. He specialized in neutron physics, and did pioneering work in gaseous diffusion for isotope separation. He was Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University from 1950 to 1969.

Columbia University private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

Niels Bohr Danish physicist

Niels Henrik David Bohr was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr was also a philosopher and a promoter of scientific research.

1941

Plutonium Chemical element with atomic number 94

Plutonium is a radioactive chemical element with symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, and forms a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation states. It reacts with carbon, halogens, nitrogen, silicon, and hydrogen. When exposed to moist air, it forms oxides and hydrides that can expand the sample up to 70% in volume, which in turn flake off as a powder that is pyrophoric. It is radioactive and can accumulate in bones, which makes the handling of plutonium dangerous.

Arthur Wahl American chemist

Arthur Charles Wahl was an American chemist who, as a doctoral student of Glenn T. Seaborg at the University of California, Berkeley, first isolated plutonium in February 1941. He also worked on the Manhattan Project.

Arthur Compton American physicist

Arthur Holly Compton was an American physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1927 for his 1923 discovery of the Compton effect, which demonstrated the particle nature of electromagnetic radiation. It was a sensational discovery at the time: the wave nature of light had been well-demonstrated, but the idea that light had both wave and particle properties was not easily accepted. He is also known for his leadership of the Manhattan Project's Metallurgical Laboratory, and served as Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis from 1945 to 1953.

1942

1943

1944

1945

1946

1947

Notes

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  2. Nichols 1987, pp. 34–35.
  3. "Atomic Bomb Seen as Cheap at Price". Edmonton Journal. 7 August 1945. p. 1. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  4. "The Calutron Girls". SmithDRay. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
  5. Beck, Alfred M, et al, United States Army in World War II: The Technical Services The Corps of Engineers: The War Against Germany, 1985 Chapter 24, Into the Heart of Germany, p. 558
  6. Rhodes 1986, p. 307.
  7. Rhodes 1986, p. 310.
  8. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 17.
  9. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 20.
  10. Rhodes 1986, p. 332.
  11. Gowing 1964, pp. 40–43.
  12. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 18.
  13. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 31.
  14. Zachary 1997, p. 112.
  15. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 27.
  16. Rhodes 1986, pp. 383–384.
  17. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 37.
  18. Roosevelt, Franklin D. (June 28, 1941). "Executive Order 8807 Establishing the Office of Scientific Research and Development". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  19. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 41.
  20. Gowing 1964, p. 76.
  21. Rhodes 1986, pp. 368–369.
  22. 1 2 Hewlett & Anderson 1962, pp. 43–44.
  23. Gowing 1964, p. 106.
  24. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, pp. 44–46.
  25. Rhodes 1986, pp. 388–389.
  26. Williams 1960, p. 3.
  27. Williams 1960, p. 4.
  28. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 53.
  29. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 49.
  30. Rhodes 1986, p. 399.
  31. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 75.
  32. Jones 1985, p. 126.
  33. Hoddeson et al. 1993, pp. 42–47.
  34. Gowing 1964, pp. 437–438.
  35. Jones 1985, p. 43.
  36. Jones 1985, p. 75.
  37. Jones 1985, p. 77.
  38. Jones 1985, p. 78.
  39. Jones 1985, p. 81.
  40. Jones 1985, p. 83.
  41. Jones 1985, p. 84.
  42. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 112.
  43. 1 2 Jones 1985, p. 110.
  44. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 152.
  45. 1 2 Jones 1985, p. 88.
  46. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 69.
  47. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 66.
  48. Nichols 1987, p. 115.
  49. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 130.
  50. Groves 1962, pp. 26,27.
  51. Nichols 1987, p. 99,100.
  52. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 79.
  53. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 380.
  54. Nichols 1987, p. 101.
  55. Gowing 1964, p. 171.
  56. Jones 1985, p. 241.
  57. Rhodes 1986, p. 499.
  58. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 211.
  59. Rhodes 1995, p. 103.
  60. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 157.
  61. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 164.
  62. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 238.
  63. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 202.
  64. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 240.
  65. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 245.
  66. "Explosion at Navy Yard". Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Association. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  67. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 269.
  68. Jones 1985, p. 221.
  69. Goudsmit 1947, pp. 69–79.
  70. 1 2 3 Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 271.
  71. Jones 1985, p. 521.
  72. Nichols 1987, p. 171.
  73. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 300.
  74. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 310.
  75. Rhodes 1986, p. 609.
  76. Jones 1985, p. 528.
  77. Williams 1960, p. 534.
  78. 1 2 3 Jones 1985, p. 529.
  79. Jones 1985, pp. 532–533.
  80. Williams 1960, p. 550.
  81. Rhodes 1986, p. 670.
  82. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 377.
  83. Rhodes 1986, p. 690.
  84. Rhodes 1986, p. 691.
  85. Rhodes 1986, p. 692.
  86. Jones 1985, pp. 536–538.
  87. Jones 1985, pp. 538–541.
  88. Jones 1985, p. 561.
  89. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, pp. 405–406.
  90. McLaughlin, Thomas P.; Monahan, Shean P.; Pruvost, Norman L.; Frolov, Vladimir V.; Ryazanov, Boris G.; Sviridov, Victor I. (May 2000). "A Review of Criticality Accidents" (PDF). Los Alamos, New Mexico: Los Alamos National Laboratory. pp. 74–75. LA-13638. Retrieved April 21, 2010.
  91. 1 2 Hewlett & Anderson 1962, p. 624.
  92. 1 2 Jones 1985, p. 544.
  93. Hoddeson et al. 1993, p. 401.
  94. Hewlett & Anderson 1962, pp. 480–481.
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  99. Jones 1985, p. 600.

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References