Decision to fund the Atomic Bomb Essay

Published: 2021-09-12 15:50:09
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Word Count: 1836"No man-made phenomenon of such tremendous power hadever occurred before. The lighting effects beggareddescription. The whole country was lighted by a searing lightwith the intensity many times greater than that of the middaysun. It was golden, purple, violet, gray, and blue. .
. "( Groueff355). The words of Brigadier General Thomas F. Farrelldescribe the onset of the atomic age, which began on July16, 1945 in Alamogordo, New Mexico. This was the site ofthe first large-scale atomic test, which utilized the tool ofdestruction that would soon decimate the populations ofHiroshima and Nagasaki less than a month afterwards. Thistest consummated the years spent developing the bomb, andwas the end result of the efforts of nuclear scientists whoconstructed it, and those of President Franklin DelanoRoosevelt, who made the decision to fund the so-calledManhattan Project.
In a letter dated August 2nd, 1939, Albert Einstein firstinformed President Roosevelt of the research that had beendone by Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard with unstableUranium which could generate large amounts of power andenergy (Einstein1 PSF Safe Files). Einstein also includedanother possible use for the uranium- the construction ofextremely powerful bombs, which were capable ofdestroying a seaport and the surrounding territory. Thisinformation may have come precisely at the right time, for inOctober of 1938 Roosevelt asked Congress for a $300million military appropriation, and in November instructedthe Army Air Corps to plan for an annual production oftwenty thousand planes. Later, in 1939, Roosevelt called foractions against "aggressor nations," and in the same yearsubmitted to Congress a $1.
3 billion defense budget (Boyer861). In an accompanying memorandum that was sent withthe Einstein letter, scientist Leo Szilard explained thetechnical science of nuclear fission and stressing theimportance of chain reactions (Walls 1 PFS Safe Files). Both documents, the Einstein letter and the Szilardmemorandum, were to be delivered by Alexander Sachs, anadviser to Roosevelts New Deal since 1933 who wouldknow how to approach Roosevelt and the government(Lanouette 200). It was not until mid-October 1939 thatSachs wangled an invitation to get in to see the Presidentover breakfast (Burns 250). Though Roosevelt found thedocuments interesting, he seemed hesitant about committinggovernment funds to such speculative research. But afterSachs reminded him of Napoleons skepticism of RobertFultons idea of a steamship, Roosevelt agreed to proceed.
Regarding the steamship issue, Sachs went on to comment,"This is an example of how England was saved by theshortsightedness of an adversary,"; this insight madeRoosevelt greatly consider the creation of the bomb. President Roosevelt authorized a study, but the decision todevote full energy to the production of the bomb was notmade until December 6, 1941, the day before the Japaneseattack on Pearl Harbor. It was the influence of Leo Szilard, along with that ofAlexander Sachs, that swayed Roosevelts decision to fundand construct the bomb. To aid the presentation to PresidentRoosevelt, Szilard contacted aviator Charles Lindbergh, todiscuss how "large quantities of energy would be liberated"by a "nuclear chain reaction," and also wanted to discusshow "to make an attempt to inform the administration (of theproject).
" Soon after, however, they discovered that theanti-arms Lindbergh was not one to help them in theirrequest to the President (Lanouette 208). Szilard then wenton a mission to find pure graphite for the experiment, (whichwould be based on Einsteins E=mc2), by exchangingdozens of letters with chemical, carbon, and metallurgicalcompanies, and bargained with manufacturers for contractsof fresh material (Lanouette 209). During this time, Szilardwas creating a decisive difference between U. S. andGerman nuclear efforts.
Szilard also inquired to ColonelKeith F. Adamson of the U. S. Army as to funding of thegraphite and uranium needed for a large scale experiment,and Adamson estimated that it might only cost $6,000,though this sum eventually swelled to more than $2 billiondollars of funds from the U. S. government (Lanouette 211).
Although Einstein later said that he "really only acted as amailbox" for Leo Szilard, in popular history his famousequation E=mc2 and his letter to President Roosevelt arecredited with starting the American effort to build atomicweapons (Lanouette 206). Fission was discovered in 1938 by German scientists, whichled to the fear of American scientists that Hitler mightattempt to develop a fission bomb. (http://yourpage. blazenet. net/aljadam/atomicmain. html).
Because of German aggression throughout Europe in1938-39, Roosevelt and the scientists thought it necessary todevelop the bomb before the Germans. Fortunately for theUnited States bomb effort, many of the worlds topscientists, from both Europe and the U. S. pooled theirexpertise in the .

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