The Invention of the Atomic Bomb


Prior to the invention of the Atomic Bomb in 1945, the United States had been involved in World War II. The research and ideas for the splitting of an atom, along with the idea for this destructive bomb had been bouncing around scientist minds for the past decade.

The start of the idea for the atomic bomb began in 1934, when Enrico Fermi, who was Italian, but working on in the United States at the time, invented an apparatus that produced the first ever atomic chain reactions.
He had been working with radioactive nuclei, but the results he achieved were hard to explain. It wasn't until five years later, when he heard that Germany had achieved nuclear fission using uranium, that he understood that he had split the uranium atom.

About ten years ealier, Albert Einstein had come up with the equation E=MC2. This equation was a key player in the invention and the understanding of how the atomic bomb would work. It helped the other scientists understand how energy itself worked in the atomic bomb once they understood that energy = mass times the speed of light squared. This paved the way for one of the greatest destructive inventions in history.

By 1940, the first blue print for the atomic bomb was created by two refugee German scientists in Britain. Their names were Professor Rudolph Peierls and Otto Frisch, of Birmingham University. Soon after, Americans and the British were working on further research in order to create the actual atomic bomb. By this point the Americans had entered World War II.

Once the war had started, President Franklin D. Roosevelt started a joint effort between the Americans and British. This effort was a top-secret project and named the "Manhattan Project" and known only to a small number of politicians and scientist, (not even President Harry Truman knew about the project. He learned of it from the Secretary of War Henry Stimson on April 25, 1945 after he became a president, but not while he was vice president.)

The top secret operation took place in an isolated location in Los Almos, New Mexico by Military General Leslie R. Groves who chose, theoretical physicist, Robert Oppenheimer as the project's scientific director. There were many difficulties that accompanied the project, including the $2 billion USD that was spent on the project as well as the pressure to maintain secrecy.


On July 16, 1945, the U.S. dropped the first ever atomic bomb in the desert of New Mexico as a test run.

Only one month later the two devastating bombs were dropped on Japan, each weighing 20kilotons. Soon after the two bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the U.S. ended World War II in hopes to return to a more peaceful world than had been the case for the last several years. This invention and destruction is what started the 30+ years of the Cold War along with the Arms Race.