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Important Writings, Papers, & Designs

Manhattan Project Notebook, 1945
By Manhattan Project
Mar 17, 2006, 12:04pm



The quest for nuclear explosives, inspired by the fear that Hitler's Germany might invent them first, was an epic, top-secret engineering and industrial venture in the United States during World War II. The term "Manhattan Project" has now become a byword for an enormous breakneck effort involving vast resources and the best scientific minds in the world. The workers on the Manhattan Project took on a nearly impossible challenge to address a grave threat to the national security.

From its beginning with Enrico Fermi's graphite-pile reactor under the bleachers of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago to the fiery explosion of the first atomic bomb near Alamogordo, New Mexico, the Manhattan Project took a little less than 3 years to create a working atomic bomb. During that time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed the construction of monumental plants to enrich uranium, three production reactors to make plutonium, and two reprocessing plants to extract plutonium from the reactor fuel. In 1939, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr had argued that building an atomic bomb "can never be done unless you turn the United States into one huge factory." Years later, he told his colleague Edward Teller, "I told you it couldn't be done without turning the whole country into a factory. You have done just that."

Source: US Department of Energy

NARA - Manhattan Project Notebook


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Citation: Notebook recording the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chair reaction, December 2, 1942; Records of the Atomic Energy Commission; Record Group 326; National Archives.



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