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The Manhattan Project The Manhattan Project was the code name of the USs attempt to construct an atomic bomb during World War II It was named after the Manhattan Engineer District of the US Army Corps of Engineers because a lot of its earlier research was done in New York City An atomic bomb is a weapon that uses the energy from a nuclear reaction called Fission for its destruction The idea that mass could be changed into energy was predicted by Albert Einstein in the earlier part of the 1900s John D Cockcroft and Ernest Walton confirmed this by experiments in 1932 Then in 1938 nuclear fission was discovered by German scientists and it was feared by many of the US scientists that Hitler would try to build a fission bomb Three Hungarian-born physicists Leo Szilard Eugene Wigner and Edward Teller asked Albert Einstein to send a letter to Franklin Roosevelt Compelled by the letter in late 1939 Roosevelt ordered an effort to obtain an atomic weapon before Germany At first this program was led by Vannevar Bush head of the National Defense Research committee and the Office of Scientific Research and Development Then it came under control of Leslie Groves of the Army Corps of Engineers Groves quickly bought a site in Oak Ridge Tennessee as a place for processing the Uranium-235 from the more common Uranium-238 Uranium-235 is used because it is fissionable it releases many neutrons and does not capture many However 993 of uranium in nature is the U-238 isotope and only 7 is the lighter more fissionable isotope U-235 Next he gathered and combined research from many East Coast universities under direction of Arthur Compton at the University of Chicago He appointed theoretical physicist J Robert Oppenheimer as the director of the weapons laboratory which was built on an isolated mesa located at Los Alamos New Mexico After much work a porous barrier that could separate the isotopes
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