A Shot of Intellect - The Manhattan Project -
Albert Einstein wrote a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. Enclosed in the letter, Einstein expressed his discerning fear that Nazi Germany would be able to develop an atomic bomb composed of uranium. Einstein claimed that the effects of an atomic bomb would be unimaginable in the hands of the Nazis.
"A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory."
Einstein's demeanor and actions were meant to warn Roosevelt of the effects, but it also carried a consequence that wasn't foreseen. Roosevelt had concluded that if Nazi Germany could in fact create an atomic bomb, that it was better if the United States had one first.
Due to Einstein's warning, the United States began a program to study uranium at a military level. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the development of the program grew into what became known as the Manhattan Project. After years of studying and development at a remote and undisclosed location in New Mexico, scientists were able to perfect the atomic bomb in 1945.
The Manhattan Project was able to unite hundreds of the top scientists from all over the world. There has never been such a gathering in history, of top scientific minds, in a location working united ever again. In today's value, it is estimated that over 20 billion dollars was spent on the project.
The uranium atomic bomb was used against the Japanese in 1945. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed approximately 120,000 people and caused Japan to surrender. By 1950, it is estimated that more than 340,000 had died from the effects of the atomic bomb.
The use of the atomic bomb still remains controversial. Many Americans, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, felt it was unnecessary and it would ruin the reputation of the United States. On the other hand, some believed it was necessary to help end the war.
Einstein, whose warning and discoveries became the foundation for the development of the uranium atomic bomb, was terrified. In fact, he regretted ever sending the letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt that warned him of the atomic bomb.
Klaus Fuchs, a British scientist who helped work on the project, admitted to providing intelligence to the Soviet Union. The Soviets were then able to test an atomic bomb in 1949, thanks to the spying by Fuchs and other scientists.