The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project

A very brief introduction to the physics of nuclear weapons

B. Cameron Reed
ISBN: 9781681746043 | PDF ISBN: 9781681746050
Copyright © 2017 | 114 Pages | Publication Date: May, 2017

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The development of nuclear weapons by the Manhattan Project during World War II was one of the most dramatic scientific/technological episodes in human history. This book, prepared by a recognized expert on the Manhattan Project, offers a concise survey of the essential physics concepts underlying fission weapons.

The text describes the energetics and timescales of fast-neutron chain reactions, why only certain isotopes of uranium and plutonium are suitable for use in fission weapons, how critical mass and bomb yield can be estimated, how the efficiency of nuclear weapons can be enhanced, how the fissile forms of uranium and plutonium were obtained, some of the design details of the 'Little Boy' and 'Fat Man' bombs, and some of the thermal, shock, and radiation effects of nuclear weapons. Calculation exercises are provided, and a Bibliography lists authoritative print and online sources of information for readers who wish to pursue more detailed study of this fascinating topic.

Table of Contents

The Background
Nuclear fission
Criticality and efficiency
Obtaining fissile material
Los Alamos, Little Boy, Fat Man, Trinity, Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Effects of nuclear weapons

About the Author(s)

B. Cameron Reed, Alma College
B. Cameron Reed is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Physics at Alma College, Alma, Michigan. In addition to a quantum mechanics text and two other books on the Manhattan Project, he has published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals in areas such as astronomy, data analysis, quantum physics, nuclear physics, and the history of physics. In 2009 he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, "For his contributions to the history of both the physics and the development of nuclear weapons in the Manhattan Project."

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