Today marks the 75th anniversary of the first atomic bomb,media New Atlas reported. The massive explosion, now known as the Trinity Test, is the pinnacle of the highly classified Manhattan project that will lead to the end of World War II and the creation of the Atomic Age within weeks.
At 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, the U.S. Army conducted the test in the Jornada del Muerto Desert, about 35 miles southeast of Sokoro County, New Mexico. As a group of the world’s top scientists watched from a safe distance, a seemingly ordinary tower disappeared in a flash, and the world’s first plutonium bomb instantly converted matter into energy.
That day, in a prosperous town, now Los Alamos National Laboratory, three years of hard work came to an dramatic end. At the time, there were 6,000 people living in muddy streets and hastily built wooden buildings, the center of the Manhattan project, the highly classified work of the Allies in making atomic bombs. It began as a British weapons program, but as the British Isles continued to be attacked by German bombers and every factory switched to conventional weapons, it was decided to pool British efforts with the Americans, and the Manhattan Project was born in June 1942.
Today, the development of weapons is highly evolutionary, based on the work done decades or even centuries ago, but the Manhattan project is almost as much a way to start from scratch. When the project began under the leadership of General Leslie Richard Groves and physicist Julius Robert Oppenheimer, they were almost entirely engaged in theoretical work and some laboratory experiments. By 1945, physicists and engineers at Los Alamos National Laboratory had created prototypes of two nuclear devices. One is a simple design that works by loading explosives into a tube, crashing two uranium 235 plugs together to produce a critical mass that, when the uranium atom bursts, triggers a chain reaction that spews out neutrons and splits more uranium atoms in a series of destructions.
The uranium bomb was so simple that scientists didn’t think it was necessary to test it, but the second bomb, called The Gadget, was much more complex. Gadgets “Use artificial radioactive element plutonium instead of uranium. Instead of a simple tube, plutonium forms a near-solid sphere surrounded by explosives, a detonator network and acoustic lenses to ensure that the resulting explosive waves properly implode the plutonium ball, triggering a chain reaction.
Scientists need some kind of test to determine whether a plutonium bomb that will be used later against nagasaki, Japan, will work. At first, the idea was to do a low-power explosion, but Oppenheimer chose a comprehensive experiment, codenamed “The Trinity.”
By May, a 100-foot-tall steel tower and a 160-person base were set up in Alamogordo, which could hold up to 450 people on test day. Due to the high level of secrecy, the U.S. military accidentally bombed the area twice.
Just as Hollywood’s big scenes mean ruining the set, the test can only be done once. The Manhattan Project team set up cameras and instruments, including a lead-lined can, to ensure that every millisecond of testing and every piece of data was recorded. As the scheduled test time approached, on top of the tower, shrouded in tarpaulin, the spherical “gadgets” were assembled by seven people, and the intricate network of wires was connected to the detonator. The entire bomb was then sealed in a steel container called Jumbo, which could prevent plutonium from falling if the test proved to be a dud. In addition, a series of electrical storms passed through the area, increasing the likelihood that the tower would be struck by lightning.
A bunker was built about 10,000 yards from the tower. Among the Army personnel and civilian scientists and technicians are Groves, Oppenheimer, and distinguished guests Richard Tolman, Fannival Bush, James Conant, Brigadier General Thomas F. Farrell, Charles Lauritsen, Isidor Isaac Rabbi, Sir Geoffrey Taylor and Sir James Chadwick.
While waiting for the explosion, scientists bet on the dollar, betting on the atomic bomb’s explosive equivalent. Edward Teller, for example, thinks this would be equivalent to 45,000 tons of TNT, oppenheimer thinks it would be about 3,000 tons, and rabbis are predicting 18,000 tons.
When the atomic bomb exploded, very few people really saw it. Most people are ordered to act and go behind their backs. Others, like Taylor, use goggles to protect their eyes. Meanwhile, young Richard Toll reasoned that the only real danger to the bomb at that distance came from ultraviolet light, so he sat in a military truck and watched from behind the protective glass windshield, making him the only person to see the experiment with the naked eye.
The gadget was detonated as planned, with an explosive capacity of about 20,000 tons of yellow explosives. The tower was vaporized, the desert ground was blown out of a 5-foot-deep pit, and a huge thermal flash turned it into glass, melting the silica crystals of the sand at high temperatures and solidified into a glass-like recrystalline substance, the “Trinitite.” Above the site, the first atomic mushroom cloud turns golden, purple, gray and blue, and the mushroom cloud is 7.5 miles (12.1 kilometers) high. Two B-29 bombers hovered in the air, recording the incident from a distance. On the ground, observers felt a heat wave, like opening the door of the oven.
“We know the world will be different.” “Somepeople laughed, some people cried, and most people were silent,” Oppenheimer said in a 1965 interview. I think of that sentence in the Indian scripture Bogavan Song. Trying to convince the prince that he should perform his duties and impress him with his multi-arm form, he said: ‘Now I have become the dead, the destroyer of the world. ‘I think that’s what we all think. “
Today, the Trinity nuclear test site is a national historic landmark marked by a simple lava base with a sign that reads: “Trinity Nuclear Test Site, july 16, 1945, where the world’s first nuclear device exploded.” “