War competition galvanized America into the first nuclear nation « Khabarhub
Sunday, June 23rd, 2024

War competition galvanized America into the first nuclear nation



It is necessary to understand what a nuclear weapon means and how they are produced. How America galvanized her war-time energy into a successful mission of producing nuclear weapons during and after WWII to become the first nuclear nation in the world? How American leadership enticed the great scientific brains to come to America, even from Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and from every nook and corner of the world? How did America become a meeting point for all the great minds and geniuses? What led America to emerge number one nation in many areas? One of them is the production and development of nuclear weapons. I will try to deal with and touch upon these curiosities to respond in a vivid way backed up with sufficient historical data.

A nuclear weapon is an explosive device whose destructive potential derives from the release of energy either by splitting or combining of atomic nuclei. The process of splitting is called the “fission” and the process of combining is called “fusion”. The basic mechanism of formation of the atomic bomb is based on fission and the fundamental tenet of making hydrogen bomb is based on the scientific mechanism of ‘fusion’. Who discovered the mechanism of fission and fusion? Let us begin with a background.

The first discovery started with the finding of an ore of uranium named as pitchblende by Pierre Curie and Marie Curie in 1898 in France which contributed a lot to American scientific innovation and prosperity.

The last decade of the 19th century revolutionized the inside understanding of nature of atoms in terms of radioactive elements. It is necessary how initial scientific discoveries took place leading to the making of nuclear bombs. The first discovery started with the finding of an ore of uranium named as pitchblende by Pierre Curie and Marie Curie in 1898 in France which contributed a lot to American scientific innovation and prosperity.

The history of nuclear fission of heavy elements started with the discovery by German Otto Hahn and his assistant Fritz Strassmann on December 17, 1938, in Germany which was further explained theoretically by Lise Meitner and her nephew Otto Robert Frisch in January 1939 in the UK. These were the initial explanations of theories and practices accomplished in the laboratory without making any attempts towards developing nuclear weapons. However, it paved the way for the future prospect of developing nuclear bombs. Atomic nuclei ready for the scientific mechanism of either fusion or fission are found in the radioactive elements in a natural or synthesized form.

Albert Einstein, who was opposed to Hitler’s political ideology and his political actions, wrote a letter to American president Franklin Roosevelt supporting the theory of uncontrolled chain reactions as the basis for potential energy generation for the weapons of mass destruction.

Out of 118 elements identified, 80 elements have at least are stable isotopes and 38 elements have exclusively radio-nuclides capable of producing excess nuclear energy — very useful for making nuclear bombs and for other useful purposes in areas of human welfare.

The first plan of creating uranium-based atomic bomb was conceived by the leaders of Allied powers particularly after Italian émigré physicist Enrico Fermi met with U.S. Navy department officials at Columbia University to discuss the use of fissionable materials for military purposes. Albert Einstein, who was opposed to Hitler’s political ideology and his political actions, wrote a letter to American president Franklin Roosevelt supporting the theory of uncontrolled chain reactions as the basis for potential energy generation for the weapons of mass destruction.

American President Roosevelt was convinced and began to allocate U$ 6,000 as seed money for the Manhattan project in 1940 in American history in order to develop an atomic bomb to be used against Axis powers. Near the completion of the project, the total money spent on the Manhattan project touched the sky to cost U$ 2 billion.

The United States of America was the main designer of Manhattan project along with allied powers also supported by Jewish German, Italian, British, Canadian and American physicists, and innovative scientists. They were working in one laboratory in America in view of the suspicion of Nazi German atomic bomb project during WWII and support of other Axis powers to Germany, Japan, and Italy. Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves was in charge of the Manhattan project to incorporate the scientific theory and practices together with the help extended by the great brains like Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, Enrico Fermi, and others. Robert J. Oppenheimer acted as technical director to orient the project at Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico desert.

The first atomic bomb was detonated with the destructive power of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT generated in New Mexico desert 120 miles South of Santa De, specifically at Alamogordo on July 16, 1945.

Edgar Sengier was the first Belgian citizen who was the director of Shinkolobwe Mine in Congo produced the highest quality uranium ore in the world, which was supplied to a warehouse on Staten Island in the USA where the whole 1,250 tons of Shinkolobwe ore was purchased by the Manhattan project. Otherwise, it could have been misused by Axis powers. It was, of course, a farsighted decision taken by the then American leadership to develop the nuclear weapons by using the highest available quality uranium ores taken from Congo.

The secret site was erected at rural Oak Ridge facilities, Tennessee as the world’s largest factory for the large-scale production and purification of the rare isotope and Massive reactors were secretly constructed at Hanford Site on the Columbia River in Benton County in the U.S. state of Washington to transform uranium-238 into plutonium for making a nuclear bomb. Two types of nuclear weapons envisioned by the US authorities were: uranium-based bomb and plutonium-based bomb. The ‘Little Boy’ was a uranium-based bomb and ‘Thin Man’ was a plutonium-based bomb along with the ‘Fat Man’ that was plutonium implosion bomb.

Scientists at Columbia University conducted the first nuclear fission experiments in the USA in the basement of Pupin Hall on January 25, 1939. They identified the active components of Uranium as the rare isotope Uranium-235 which could release neutrons instead of accepting them.

(To be continued…)

Views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the stance of Khabarhub.

Publish Date : 07 June 2019 10:46 AM

Home Minister Lamichhane helped fraud-accused GB Rai escape: Bishwo Prakash Sharma

KATHMANDU: The main opposition party, Nepali Congress (NC), has raised

CIAA to file corruption case against Chief Secretary Aryal

KATHMANDU: The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA)

Construction hiatus takes toll on Chabahil-Kalanki road (Photos)

KATHMANDU: The Chabahil-Kalanki road section in Kathmandu is suffering due

Supreme Court to hear case against Koshi government today

KATHMANDU: Today, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a

Gold price down by Rs 2,700 per tola today

KATHMANDU: The price of gold decreased by Rs 2,700 per