Type: Research Essays
Sample donated: Hope Carpenter
Last updated: May 22, 2019
August 6, 1945, on this day the most destructive man-made force was dropped on Hiroshima. The atomic bomb killed on impact an estimated 140,000 people including many innocent men, women, and children and another 10,000 just from the nuclear fallout. Three days later another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki which had killed about 75,000.
Throughout history there have been a number of discoveries that have led up to that point such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the discovery of nuclear fission and the Manhattan project. First off, you have to understand who came up with the original idea of the atomic bomb. Albert Einstein in 1905, with his Special Theory of Relativity (which is energy= mass multiplied by the speed of light squared) created the basic theory of energy. This theory was the foundation for the basis of the release of atomic energy. Shortly after in 1938 Otto Hahn, A German scientist who along with another scientist named Lise Meitner, led the group of scientists who discovered the nuclear fission of thorium and uranium nuclei. This discovery made the development of the atomic bomb a possibility. After hearing about this discovery Einstein sent a letter to the current president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the letter had stated, “In the course of the last four months it has been made probable — through the work of Joliot in France as well as Fermi and Szilárd in America — that it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated.
Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.”(Albert Einstein) This letter was what led to the initiation of the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project was the research and development of atomic bombs during World War II. This was the first time the atomic bomb was actually developed. “We had the full backing of our government, combined with the nearly infinite potential of American science, engineering and industry, and an almost unlimited supply of people endowed with ingenuity and determination. (Leslie Groves) The United States had spent an estimated one billion dollars on the project alone not including other expenses for the military.
The research for the project was only done at a few universities such as University of California at Berkeley, University of Chicago, and Colombia University. The project was done secretly so Germany and Japan would not would not find out, so secretive that even America did not tell their allies because of the chance of spies form the Axis powers. After testing one of their bombs in New Mexico, President Truman decided to end the war swiftly with man’s newest and most destructive weapon known in history.
With the war raging on and Japan willing to fight till the end, The US thought the end of the war was going to be easy. But with death at their doorsteps the Japanese fought even harder and were killing more Allied soldiers than expected. With the higher death toll, General Douglas McArthur decided there would be a high chance that 1 million soldiers would die with another invasion so they advised the current president, Harry Truman used the bombs form the Manhattan project to put a swift end to the war. On 6 August 1945, a Boeing B-29 Super fortress also known as Enola Gay lifted off from North Field, and Little Boy in its bomb bay. Hiroshima, the headquarters of the 2nd General Army and Fifth Division and a port of embarkation, was the primary target of the mission, with Kokura and Nagasaki as alternatives.
The assembly of the bomb was done mid-flight to minimize damage and casualties. The bomb was detonated about 530 meters in the air and the blast was estimated to be about 13 kilotons of TNT after the explosion. Japanese officials determined that 69% of Hiroshima’s buildings were destroyed and another 6–7% damaged. About 70,000 to 80,000 people, of whom 20,000 were Japanese combatants and 20,000 were Korean slave laborers, or some 30% of the population of Hiroshima, were killed immediately, and another 70,000 injured. Not everybody agreed with the decision, even Chief of Staff at the time William D. Leahy said, “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.”(Leahy) On the morning of 9 August 1945, a second B-29 lifted off with Fat Man on board.
This time, and Kokura was the primary target. The bomber took off with the weapon already armed but with the electrical safety plugs still engaged to lower the chances of it detonating midair. When they reached Kokura, the city was covered with thick clouds which led to difficulties receiving orders because of lack in vision. After multiple runs over the city, and with plane fuel running low, they headed for the secondary target, Nagasaki. The Fat Man was dropped over the city’s industrial valley.
The resulting explosion had a blast yield equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT. most of the city was protected by the intervening hills, resulting in the destruction of about 44% of the city. The bombing also crippled the city’s industrial production extensively and killed 23,200–28,200 Japanese industrial workers and 150 Japanese soldiers.
The war soon ended after the United States showed their capabilities and ability to execute large scale atomic bombs. In conclusion, many scientific discoveries led up to the development of the atomic bomb. Many discoveries such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the discovery of nuclear fission, and the creations in the Manhattan project were essential to the development of the atomic bomb. This invention was a stepping stool for many more inventions in the future and still is to thi