An essay on Oppenheimer's morals VS. the government on building the bomb for the government

Essay by neel_shahHigh School, 10th gradeA+, April 2002

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Oppenheimer's Morals VS. The Government

Julius Robert Oppenheimer was made director of the Los Alamos laboratory and conducted the Manhattan Project. His team designed two bombs, one using uranium (called "Little Boy") and one using plutonium ("Fat Man"). By early 1945, nuclear plants around the nation (also working under the Manhattan Project) had produced enough nuclear material to being testing. On July 13, 1945, at a site called Trinity in New Mexico, a plutonium bomb was assembled and brought to the top of a tower. On July 16, the bomb was detonated, producing an intense flash of light seen by observers in bunkers up to 10 miles away and a fireball that expanded to 650 feet in two seconds. It grew to a height of more than 9 miles, boiling up in the shape of a mushroom. Forty seconds later, the blast of air from the bomb reached the observation bunkers, along with a long and deafening roar of sound.

The explosive power, equivalent to 18.6 kilotons of TNT, was almost four times larger than predicted. Oppenheimer was appalled at the power of this bomb. He circulated a petition among several of the Los Alamos scientists asking President Truman to give Japan a warning and a chance to surrender before utilizing the bomb.

Twenty-one days after the test, the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped the uranium bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later the plutonium bomb was used to bomb Nagasaki. The two bombs killed approximately 150,000 people when they fell. This is exactly what Oppenheimer feared. He feared that the nuclear weapon he had helped form would be used irrationally and cause unnecessary destruction. Today, there are several arguments that Oppenheimer was correct and the United States government could have avoided dropping the atomic bomb.

The United States' Pacific...