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This section provides an overview of the history of the Manhattan Project, the key organizations involved, the science behind the bomb, and more.
Foreign Minister Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender

Debate over the Japanese Surrender

The debate over what precipitated the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II is a source of contention among historians. This debate has also figured prominently in the discussion of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Using chemical separation methods to find atoms of mendelevium.

Discovery of Mendelevium

Mendelevium, or element 101, was discovered at the Berkeley Rad Lab in 1955 using advanced techniques and tools.
Doctor Atomic

Doctor Atomic

Doctor Atomic is an opera composed by John Adams with a libretto by Peter Sellars about the Manhattan Project and the Trinity Test.
The World Set Free

Early Atomic Science

In 1914, novelist H. G. Wells envisioned an atomic bomb that would produce a continual radioactive explosion in his book "The World Set Free."
Arthur Compton at work. Image courtesy of the University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf1-01881, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Effects of Radiation

The first concerted effort to understand and study the effects of radiation on humans began in Chicago in 1942.
Norris Bradbury standing next to the Gadget Device. Each of the 32 detonators (circles with two wires) attached to the Fireset (box) using two bridgewires.

Electronics and Detonators

Manhattan Project scientists and engineers in Los Alamos, NM designed and developed a number of innovations in the field of electronics.
Clinch River

Environmental Consequences

Both the Oak Ridge and Hanford sites were chosen for their isolation and access to hydropower from surrounding river systems.
A World War II poster


Espionage was one of General Groves' main concerns during the Manhattan Project.
The Dampierre Nuclear Power Plant in northern France

French Nuclear Program

France became the fourth country to possess nuclear weapons after its first test in 1960. While development was slowed by the impact of World War II, the achievements of early French research were critical for nuclear development worldwide.