Few great discoveries have evolved so swiftly—or have been so misunderstood. From the theoretical discussions of nuclear energy to the bright glare of Trinity there was a span of hardly more than twenty-five years. What began merely as an interesting speculative problem in physics grew into the Manhattan Project, and then into the Bomb with frightening rapidity, while scientists known only to their peers—Szilard, Teller, Oppenheimer, Bohr, Meitner, Fermi, Lawrence, and von Neumann—stepped from their ivory towers into the limelight.
Richard Rhodes takes us on that journey step-by-step, minute by minute, and gives us the definitive story of man’s most awesome discovery and invention.
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The project to develop the first atomic bomb during World War II was known as the Manhattan District, or informally the Manhattan Project. The first and next-to-last use of atomic weapons in warfare was the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in August 1945. Edward Teller was a fervent advocate of the hydrogen bomb development after World War II and later was equally strong in favor of nuclear power. J. Robert Oppenheimer was the chief scientific adminstrator during the Manhattan Project and later the victim of suspicions against all those with politically questionable friends.