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Primary Sources: America in World War II

The Manhattan Project 

The Manhattan Project was a top-secret research and development project during World War II that produced the first atomic bombs. Initiated in 1942, the project's primary objective was to develop nuclear weapons before Nazi Germany. Led by the United States with support from the United Kingdom and Canada, the project brought together the brightest scientific minds of the time, including physicists such as J. Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, and Niels Bohr.

The Manhattan Project operated under the utmost secrecy, with research facilities scattered across the United States, including Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford, Washington. Scientists worked tirelessly to overcome technical challenges in uranium enrichment and plutonium production, pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge and engineering.

In July 1945, the Manhattan Project achieved its goal with the successful detonation of the first atomic bomb, code-named "Trinity," in the New Mexico desert. This test confirmed the feasibility of nuclear weapons and paved the way for the deployment of atomic bombs against Japan.

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, followed by another on Nagasaki three days later. The devastating impact of these bombings led to Japan's unconditional surrender, effectively ending World War II.

The Manhattan Project remains one of the most significant scientific and technological achievements in history, marking the dawn of the nuclear age and forever altering the course of warfare and international relations. Its legacy continues to raise ethical questions about the use of atomic weapons and the responsibilities of scientists in the pursuit of knowledge and innovation.

Book Sources: Manhattan Project

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Online Sources: Manhattan Project

Videos on the Manhattan Project 

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