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The Manhattan ProjectThe Manhattan Project was the code name of the US s attempt to construct an atomic bomb duringWorld War II It was named after the Manhattan Engineer District of the US Army Corps of Engineersbecause a lot of it s earlier research was done in New York City An atomic bomb is a weapon that usesthe 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 earlierpart of the 1900 s John D Cockcroft and Ernest Walton confirmed this by experiments in 1932 Then in1938 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 SzilardEugene 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 beforeGermany At first this program was led by Vannevar Bush head of the National Defense Research committeeand the Office of Scientific Research and Development Then it came under control of Leslie Groves ofthe Army Corps of Engineers Groves quickly bought a site in Oak Ridge Tennessee as a place forprocessing the Uranium-235 from the more common Uranium-238 Uranium-235 is used because it isfissionable it releases many neutrons and does not capture many However 993 of uranium in natureis the U-238 isotope and only 7 is the lighter more fissionable isotope U-235 Next he gatheredand combined research from many East Coast universities under direction of Arthur Compton at theUniversity of Chicago He appointed theoretical physicist J Robert Oppenheimer as the director of theweapons 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 of uranium was made and itwas installed in the Oak ridge gaseous diffusion plant
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