History

History

This section provides an overview of the history of the Manhattan Project, the key organizations involved, the science behind the bomb, and more.
Lawrence O'Rourke SAM badge. Courtesy Larry O'Rourke.

Manhattan Project Begins - 1942

The summer of 1942 proved to be troublesome for the fledgling bomb project.
Santa Fe New Mexican on August 6, 1945

Media Censorship

During World War II, partly thanks to media censorship, the United States government kept the best-held secret: the building of the atomic bomb.
Vannevar Bush and Arthur Compton

Moving Forward - 1941

With the US now at war, a sense of great urgency permeated the government's scientific enterprise.
National Museum of Nuclear Science and History

Museums and the Atomic Age

Many museums have explored the history of nuclear science, technology, and politics. These museums vary greatly in geographical location, size, and scope. Some are dedicated solely to the historic preservation and interpretation of some aspect of the atomic age. Others have different areas of specialty but have chosen to feature nuclear history as it relates to their primary topic. One thing these diverse institutions do share, however, is the goal of engaging the public with this complex and polarizing history.

The atom. Image courtesy of Colin M. Burnett, Wikimedia Commons.

Mystery of the Atom - 1900-1939

During the early part of the twentieth century, physicists and chemists toyed with the idea of obtaining energy from atoms.
Maria Montoya Martinez and her grandchild with Enrico Fermi. Photo courtesy of the Robert JS Brown Collection.

Native Americans and the Manhattan Project

Many of the communities established during the Manhattan Project relied on Native American cooperation.
Nevada Test Site From Above (Yucca Flats)

Nevada Test Site Downwinders

The Nevada Test Site Downwinders are individuals living in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah who were exposed to radiation from atmospheric nuclear tests.
US President George H.W. Bush and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev sign the START I Agreement, July 31, 1991.

Non-Proliferation, Limitation, and Reduction

This article summarizes multilateral and bilateral treaties dealing with non-proliferation, limitation, and reduction of nuclear weapons.

Nth Country Experiment

Could any country with the right knowledge and technology build a nuclear bomb? From May 1964 to April 1967, the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (the predecessor to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) set out to answer this question. The Laboratory hired three physicists who only recently received their Ph.Ds in physics to design a nuclear bomb. D.A. Dobson, D.N. Pipkorn, and R.W. Selden had little to no experience with nuclear physics.

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