What was the Manhattan Project

The term, ‘Manhattan Project’, was the codename used to refer to the secret project of the United States of America that led to the development of the first nuclear bomb that was used in Second World War. The project was initiated in the year 1939 and the other allies of USA, United Kingdom and Canada also actively participated in the project. The world scenario in the period before the Second World War and the urgency shown by the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, was the main reason that led the western world to come up with a project that would help them develop a nuclear bomb before Hitler did. It would be worth noting here that Albert Einstein was the person who through his letter directed the American President, Franklin D Roosevelt to come up with nuclear weapons.

The main sites of this project were located at Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and Hanford. The stress was to go about the entire process in a secret manner, to keep away from the praying eyes of the Soviet Union and Germany. Uranium and plutonium were produced in different laboratories under the leadership of Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie R Groves of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The two main weapons, ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’ that caused the catastrophe in Japan with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were developed as a part of the Manhattan Project.

The widespread unrest and hatred among the European Jews against the policies of Adolf Hitler led to the participation of the European scientists too in the Manhattan Project. A total of around 200000 employees were a part of the Manhattan project and work was carried out in about 50 laboratories. There is a debate among the experts about the actual intention of the project and the rapid progress of it. The fact that Japan was bombed within a matter of months after the development of nuclear weapons at the Manhattan Project; raises a question about the predetermined goal of the project.

The total cost of the project came up to 2 billion USD and a total of four bombs were produced in a span of 6 years. Out of these, only two were used against Japan in World War 2. Approximately, 100 employees were dead, hundreds of them were injured during the project and many of them had high levels of radioactive substances in their body, by the time project came to and end.

In the year 1946, with Atomic Energy Commission taking up the Manhattan Project, the official end of the project was announced. The Manhattan Project is considered to be one of the key factors that led to the abrupt end of the Second World War with the bombing of Japan.