"My God, what have we done?" - Robert Lewis, the co-pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb.
On August 2, 1939, just before the beginning of World War II, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Einstein and several other scientists told Roosevelt of efforts in Nazi Germany to purify uranium-235, which could be used to build an atomic bomb. It was after that letter was delivered that the United States began the project, known then only as, "The Manhattan Project." The Manhattan Project was devoted to increasing research that would produce an atomic bomb. ("World War II: The Atomic Bomb")
Over the course of six years, from 1939 to 1945, more than $2 billion was spent on the Manhattan Project. The formulas for refining uranium and putting together a working atomic bomb were created by some of the greatest minds of all time. One of the scientists among the people who discovered the power of the atom bomb was J. Robert Oppenheimer, who was the director of operations for the project. Oppenheimer also gave the test day for the atomic bomb the code name, Trinity. He would also later be head over the Atomic Energy Commission.
On July 16, 1945, all of the scientists working on the Manhattan Project met at Los Alamos for the "Trinity Test" to find out if "The Gadget" ( the atomic bomb's code-named during its development) was going to be the biggest dud of the century or the biggest breakthrough of the century that would bring an end to the war and a new beginning for the United States. (Benson)
At 5:29:45 (Mountain War Time), in a white blaze that stretched from the bottom of the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico to the sky above, "The Gadget" brought the world to the Atomic Age with a bang. The light of the explosion turned orange as the atomic fireball began shooting upwards at 360 feet per second, reddening and pulsing as it cooled. The mushroom cloud of radioactive vapor materialized at 30,000 feet. Beneath the cloud, all that remained of the soil at the blast site were fragments of jade green radioactive glass created by the heat of the reaction. (Benson)
The bright flash of light from the detonation penetrated the morning sky with such intensity that residents from a faraway neighboring community thought that the sun came up twice that day. What is even more astonishing is that a blind girl saw the flash 120 miles away. (Benson)
Upon witnessing the explosion, the scientists, that had spent six years on the project, had mixed reactions. "Isidor Rabi felt that the equilibrium in nature had been upset -- as if humankind had become a threat to the world it inhabited. J. Robert Oppenheimer, though ecstatic about the success of the project, quoted a remembered fragment from the Bhagavad Gita. "I am become Death," he said, "the destroyer of worlds." Ken Bainbridge, the test director, told Oppenheimer, "Now we're all sons of bitches." ("World War II: The Atomic Bomb")
After viewing the results several participants signed petitions against releasing the atomic bomb they had created, but their petitions were of no use. The Jornada del Muerto of New Mexico would not be the last site on Earth to experience an atomic explosion. If fact, it was only the beginning.
The scientists who helped invent the Atomic Bomb under the Manhattan Project were, Robert Oppenheimer, David Bohm, Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, Otto Frisch, Rudolft Peierls, Felix Bloch, Niels Bohr, Emilio Segre, James Franck, Enrico Fermi, Klaus Fuchs, and Edward...