The Nuclear Age Begins - Essay

Topics: Nuclear weapon, World War II, Manhattan Project Pages: 2 (613 words) Published: December 8, 2010
The Nuclear Age begins

The first nuclear explosion, named "Trinity", was detonated July 16, 1945. Main article: History of nuclear weapons
During the 1930s, innovations in physics made it apparent that it could be possible to develop nuclear weapons of incredible power using nuclear reactions. When World War II broke out, scientists and advisors among the Allies feared that Nazi Germany may have been trying to develop its own atomic weapons, and the United States and the United Kingdom pooled their efforts in what became known as the Manhattan Project to beat them to it. At the secret Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico, scientist Robert Oppenheimer led a team of the world's top scientists to develop the first nuclear weapons, the first of which was tested at the Trinity site in July 1945. However, Germany had surrendered in May 1945, and it had been discovered that the German atomic bomb program had not been very close to success. The Allied team produced two nuclear weapons for use in the war, one powered by uranium-235 and the other by plutonium as fissionable material, named "Little Boy" and "Fat Man". These were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. This, in combination with the Soviet entrance in the war, convinced the Japanese to surrender unconditionally. These two weapons remain the only two nuclear weapons ever used against other countries in war. Nuclear weapons brought an entirely new and terrifying possibility to warfare: a nuclear holocaust. While at first the United States held a monopoly on the production of nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union, with some assistance from espionage, managed to detonate its first weapon (dubbed "Joe-1" by the West) in August 1949. The post-war relations between the two, which had already been deteriorating, began to rapidly disintegrate. Soon the two were locked in a massive stockpiling of nuclear weapons. The United States began a crash-program to develop the first hydrogen bomb...
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