Modern Marvels: The Manhattan Project
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At 5:30 a.m., July 16, 1945, scientists and dignitaries awaited the detonation of the first atomic bomb in a desolate area of the New Mexico desert aptly known as Jornada del Muerto--Journey of Death. Dubbed the Manhattan Project, the top-secret undertaking was tackled with unprecedented speed and expense--almost $30-billion in today's dollars. Los Alamos scientists and engineers relate their trials, triumphs, and dark doubts about building the ultimate weapon of war in the interest of peace.
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'The Day After Trinity,' is a "haunting journey through the dawn of the Nuclear Age, an incisive history of the Manhattan Project and the man behind it - J. Robert Oppenheimer, the principal architect of the atomic bomb.' Sadly, the film is no longer in print, so you'll either have to pay a ridiculously high price to obtain it, or hopefully find it at your local library. It's definitely worth watching.
"Manhattan Project" begins with the state of atomic science as the Second World War got underway in 1939, and why the United States decided it should build a bomb before Nazi Germany could. At the center of the narrative are Army General Leslie Groves and scientist Robert Oppenheimer, a yin and yang combination who together solved the technical problems of building a bomb, then in record time put together the industrial resources to provide the necessary uranium and plutonium. "The Manhattan Project" concludes with the Trinity Test of July 1945 and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
The narrative benefits from interviews with some of the surviving personnel who worked on the project. These interviews put a human face on a massive industrial effort. Some prominent historians offer a larger perspective on the project. The narrative does not shy away from the moral implications of use. Some of the concluding comments suggest that warfare has been changed forever by the invention of a weapon that could annihilate millions in a major exchange.
This short feature on the Manhattan Project is highly recommended as a concise but reasonably comprehensive survey at the popular history level of the making of the first atomic bomb.