Today is the 65th anniversary of the first man-made nuclear detonation. A prototype of the "Fat Man
" Pu-239 implosion-type bomb, fueled by Plutonium enriched at the Hanford site's "B Reactor
" in eastern Washington, was detonated in the New Mexico desert near Alamagordo. Hanford, site of today's Pacific Northwest National Lab
, is the site of a scaled-up, 250 MWatt breeder reactor based on the Graphic Reactor
developed by Enrico Fermi at X-10 (today's Oak Ridge National Lab
) in Bethel Valley near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
This test was the final developmental milestone of the MANHATTAN PROJECT. Exactly three weeks later ENOLA GAY dropped the single "Little Boy" bomb on Hiroshima. 'Single' because the Y-12 site in Bear Creek Valley in Oak Ridge, had produced only enough Highly Enriched Uranium-235 for a single 'gun-type' (vice 'implosion-type') bomb with Cal physics professor E.O. Lawrence's "California University Cyclotrons" (or 'Calutrons').
Three days later, BOCK'S CAR dropped a second "Fat Man" bomb on Nagasaki. Within days Emperor Hirohito capitulated to the unconditional surrender of the Empire of Japan to the Allied Powers - and spared the world the millions of casualties from an invasion of the Japanese home islands.
My grandfather would have undoubtedly been pulled back into the Fleet Marine Force (despite the malaria he contracted on Guadalcanal), and I very likely would not be here today.
So regardless of your thoughts on the 'necessity' of a city attack vice a benign "demonstration" of the capability, it is worthwile to note that the motto of Oak Ridge, Tennessee (where I called home from 2006-2009) is "Born of War, Living for Peace, Growing through Science". And in Oak Ridge's A.K. Bissell Park at the city's center is a friendship bell from the city of Hiroshima.
Labels: history, Oz, science