On the morning of August 6, 1945, the first Atomic Bomb in history was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Soon after, on August 14, 1945, the Japanese abruptly surrendered, abandoning their ancient customs regarding honor in war. The fact that only two bombs were able to bring an entire country to its knees is a true testament to the awesome power they held. There is nothing in modern warfare that can compete with the devastating effects of nuclear weapons.
At the beginning of World War II, the Japanese were a major threat to the Asian World. On December 7, 1941, when they decided to attack Pearl Harbor (a US naval base in Hawaii), it was evident that their intentions were not limited to Asia. The United States entered World War II as a result of this attack. The war continued for six long years, and involved most of the major World Powers. During this time, there were many battles between the United States and Japan, including one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, which took place at Okinawa. If allowed to expand, Japan posed a serious threat to the allies.
During the war, one of the most brilliant scientists in history, Albert Einstein, hypothesized that if the true power of the atom were released in a weapon, the results would be devastating. This was soon confirmed by a large portion of the scientific community. Whoever possessed such a weapon would be in complete power. Many government officials felt that such a weapon could put an end to the war. For this reason, in 1942, the United States decided to pursue the atomic bomb. Later that year, Franklin D. Roosevelt began the Manhattan Project.
The Manhattan Project was a massive engineering enterprise aimed at the ultimate goal of creating an atomic bomb. At one time it employed over 129,000 workers. The United States was the only nation in the world with the capacity to work on such a high level. Though it cost approximately $2 billion dollars, many officials who knew about the Top Secret project felt it was well worth it- if the Atomic Bomb proved useful. Another major expense of the United States government was the development of the B-29, a bomber plane specifically designed for dropping Atomic Bombs. The estimated cost of this project is $3 billion dollars, bringing the total cost of the new atomic weapon to $5 billion dollars (approx. $50 billion 1998 dollars). If the Atomic Bomb failed, not only would many people lose their jobs, but the outcome of the war might have changed. For this reason, the Manhattan Project employed many of the top scientific minds of the world.
Unbeknownst to the Allies, the Germans decided not to pursue an atomic weapon. They felt it was more important to spend the money on troops and machinery, and thought that they would have won the war before they were able to obtain an atomic weapon. They were also unaware of the top-secret Manhattan Project. The Japanese conducted small research on the possibility of building a bomb, but never fully pursued it.
If the Germans had decided to build a bomb, and obtained it before the United States, they most certainly would have used it against the Allies. This is why it was so crucial for the U.S. to complete the Manhattan Project as quickly as possible. A German victory would have resulted in a history that is completely different from that which took place. If the Axis Powers had developed the Atomic Bomb, they would have been unstoppable.
A nuclear weapon harnesses the power of the atom with a process known as an Uncontrollable Fission Reaction. In this process, a neutron (a subatomic particle found in the nucleus of atoms) is bombarded with the nucleus of a radioactive atom, such as Uranium or Plutonium. This causes the nucleus of the radioactive atom to become unstable, and split into two new atoms. To stabilize the new atoms, more neutrons are released, which move on to bombard with another radioactive nucleus. The energy released comes from the binding energy (the energy required to keep the nucleus