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The Nuclear Age

American research into nuclear power developed from the fear during World War II that the Germans who were engaged in a war in Europe would develop and use nuclear power as a weapon. Albert Einstein and other European scientists wrote a letter to President Roosevelt warning him of the impending danger of the Germans enriching Uranium 235 to obtain material to construct a nuclear weapon. The US, therefore, embarked on a program of their own.  It was called the Manhattan Project.

The Manhattan Project was established to expedite research that would produce a viable atomic bomb. Robert Oppenheimer supervised the Manhattan Project from 1939 to 1945, which cost more than $2 billion. The formulas for refining uranium were developed and applied to construct an atomic bomb, a product of nuclear fission.

It was tested successfully at Los Alamos in July, 1945. On  August 6, 1945 the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing over 100,000. When the Japanese failed to surrender, on August 9, 1945 the US dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, killing over 40,000.  The Japanese surrendered and the war was over.

In 1952 the hydrogen bomb, a product of nuclear fusion, which was thousands of times more powerful than the atomic bomb was exploded by the United States for testing purposes. In 1956, however, the first major nuclear power plant opened in England which used nuclear energy to produce power. Nuclear power has many advantages. It is plentiful, requires less fossil fuel to produce energy and is far less polluting. A danger. However, is the lethal radiation which could be released accidentally. The best known accidents were Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the Daiichi meltdown in Japan  following the tsunami in 2011.  Tomorrow, Computer Savvy    Rita Bay

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