The Manhattan Project was the codename for a project conducted during World War II to develop the first atomic bomb. The project was led by the United States, and included scientists from Denmark, the United Kingdom and Canada. Formally designated as the Manhattan Engineer District (MED), it refers specifically to the period of the project from 1942–1946 under the control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, under the administration of General Leslie R. Groves. The Jewish nuclear physicist and suspected Soviet spy Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory that designed the bombs.
The project's roots lay in fears since the 1930s that National Socialist Germany was also investigating nuclear weapons of its own. Born out of a small research program in 1939, the Manhattan Project eventually employed more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion ($22 billion in current value). It resulted in the creation of multiple production and research sites that operated in secret.
Project research took place at over thirty sites across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The three primary research and production sites of the project were the plutonium-production facility at what is now the Hanford Site, the uranium-enrichment facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the weapons research and design laboratory now known as Los Alamos National Laboratory. The MED maintained control over U.S. weapons production until the formation of the Atomic Energy Commission in January 1947.
Communist spies, who often were Jewish, transmitted many of the Manhattan Project secrets to the Soviet Union. See also McCarthyism.
- Albert Einstein
- Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
- National Socialist Germany's nuclear weapons program
- Robert Oppenheimer
- The most comprehensive history of the Manhattan Project is Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (Simon & Schuster, 1986).
- Stephen I. Schwartz Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1998. Manhattan Project expenditures