Skip to comments.(On This Day in History) July 16, 1945 : U.S. Conducts First Test of the Atomic Bomb
Posted on 07/16/2007 8:10:27 AM PDT by DogByte6RER
1945 : United States conducts first test of the atomic bomb
The United States conducts the first test of the atomic bomb at its research facility in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The terrifying new weapon would quickly become a focal point in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The official U.S. development of the atomic bomb began with the establishment of the Manhattan Project in August 1942. The project brought together scientists from the United States, Great Britain, and Canada to study the feasibility of building an atomic bomb capable of unimaginable destructive power. The project proceeded with no small degree of urgency, since the American government had been warned that Nazi Germany had also embarked on a program to develop an atomic weapon. By July 1945, a prototype weapon was ready for testing. Although Germany had surrendered months earlier, the war against Japan was still raging. On July 16, the first atomic bomb was detonated in the desert near the Los Alamos research facility. Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the project, watched the mushroom cloud rise into the Nevada sky. "Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds," he uttered, reciting a passage from an ancient Hindu text. News of the successful test was relayed to President Harry S. Truman, who was meeting with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in Potsdam to discuss the postwar world. Observers at the meeting noted that the news "tremendously pepped up" the president, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill believed that Truman almost immediately adopted a more aggressive tone in dealing with Stalin.
Truman and many other U.S. officials hoped that possession of the atomic bomb would be America's trump card in dealing with the Soviets after the war. Use of the weapon against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 demonstrated the destructive force of the atomic bomb. The American atomic monopoly did not last long, though. By 1949, the Soviets had developed their own atomic bomb, marking the beginning of the nuclear arms race.
Too bad it wasn’t ready to use againts Germany first.
My uncle served in the European Theater and was in transit to the South Pacific when the bomb was dropped. Good chance it saved his and countless other American lives.
So what did we do with Klaus Fuchs?
Good thing Hitler drove off his Jewish scientists and was never seriously in the game for developing one.
Makes for a science fiction novel to think what would have happened had Germany developed it before starting the war.
“Trinity” atomic bomb test on July 16, 1945:
“It’s a boy.”
Trinity - Birth of the Atomic Age
At 5:30 AM on the morning of July 16, 1945, the pre-dawn stillness of the New Mexico desert was shattered by the most momentous, man-made explosion of all time. At a site called Trinity, a plutonium bomb was assembled and atop a 100 foot steel tower.
The bomb was detonated, producing an intense flash and a fireball that expanded to 600 meters in two seconds. The explosive power was equivalent to 18.6 kilotons of TNT. It grew to a height of more than 12 kilometers, boiling up in the shape of a mushroom. Forty seconds later, the blast of air from the bomb reached the observation bunkers, along with a long and deafening roar of sound. And so began the ATOMIC AGE...
The uranium gun weapon, “Little Boy Bomb”, was a simple design and scientists were confident it would without testing. The “Fat Man”, or implosion bomb, was a more efficient design, using plutonium instead of uranium. Inside the very center of the bomb was an initiator, surrounded by a sphere of plutonium.
This sphere was encased within a set of symmetrically located, high explosive lenses, creating an implosion which forced the plutonium into itself, attaining critical mass. The blast instantly raised temperatures to ten million degrees, releasing a force of a million pounds of pressure, vaporizing the tower and desert life within half a mile.
The intensity of light was sufficient to cause temporary blindness to an observer half a mile away. Development and construction of the atomic bomb was the most closely guarded secret in scientific history. This was a culmination of centuries of step-by-step advances in the scientific quest to learn about the inner workings of the atom.
Finally, in July 16, 1945, a practical atomic bomb was completed. The first test, code named “Trinity” was exploded at Alamogordo, New Mexico. The “Trinity” test confirmed the implosion design used for the Fat Man bomb exploded over Nagasaki. Long before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States in late 1941 established a secret program, which came to be known as the Manhattan Project, to develop an atomic bomb, a powerful explosive nuclear weapon.
The aim of the project, directed by physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, was to build an atom bomb before Germany did. After Roosevelt’s death in April 1945, Harry S. Truman became president and inherited the bomb-development program. At this point, the new weapon had two purposes. First, it could be used to force Japan to surrender.
Second, possession of the bomb would enable the United States, and not the USSR, to control postwar policy. On August 29, 1949, the Russians detonated their first atomic bomb. This event, coming five years earlier than anyone in the West had predicted, was largely the result of one man, Klaus Fuchs.
Fuchs, a Los Alamos physicist, had passed detailed blue prints of the original Trinity design to the Russians. With the emergence of the USSR as a nuclear rival, the United States believed it had strong motivation for intensifying its program of nuclear testing.
Fat Man and Little Boy saved even more Japanese lives than American lives.
Traded him to the Russkies, to East Germany where he spent the rest of his days.
One of the plans was for the allies to drop atomic bombs just beyond the beaches to provide breaches in the Japanese defenses for the allies to funnel through. Can’t imagine the friendly casualties and shortened lives that would have caused.
I can’t attest to the accuracy of this statement but Oppenheimer’s younger brother (Frank - who was present at the Trinity test) simply said “It worked”.
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