In August 1945, two US Army Air Force B-29 bombers each dropped single "atomic bombs" on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Little Boy and Fat Man each exploded with energies equivalent to over 10,000 tons of conventional explosive. Just seven years later, in October of 1952, the Ivy Mike test saw the detonation of America's first full-scale thermonuclear weapon which achieved a yield over 400 times as much as Little Boy and Fat Man. The invention of nuclear weapons was one of the most stunning scientific and technological developments of the twentieth century. Carried out under the auspices of the United States Army's Manhattan Project, this development had profound immediate and long-term impacts: the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki helped bring World War II to a close, but set the stage for the Cold War, nuclear proliferation, and fear of nuclear annihilation and terrorism.
This volume, prepared by an acknowledged expert on the Manhattan Project, gives a concise, fast-paced account of all major aspects of the Project at a level accessible to an undergraduate college or advanced high-school student familiar with some basic concepts of energy, atomic structure, and isotopes. The text describes the underlying scientific discoveries that made nuclear weapons possible, how the Project was organized, the daunting challenges faced and overcome in obtaining fissile uranium and plutonium and in designing workable bombs, the dramatic Trinity test carried out in the desert of southern New Mexico in July, 1945, and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The final chapter surveys current worldwide nuclear weapons deployments, and a Bibliography lists sources of published and online information along with numerous links.
Table of Contents
Introduction and Overview
The Background Science
The Manhattan Project
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The Legacy of Manhattan and Current Nuclear Weapons Deployments
Bibliography and Links
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."