Oak Ridge, Tennessee (Secret City)

In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt that described vast amounts of power derived from a nuclear chain reaction.

Albert Einstein's 1939 letter to F.D. Roosevelt, President (excerpt): ...it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future. This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable - though much less certain - that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory..."

In 1942, a secret city in Tennessee was built as a production site for the Manhattan Project - the operation that created the atomic bomb.

Flat-top housing was a common style for Manhattan Project workers

As the atomic bomb progressed from theory to reality, many different methods of detonation were considered. A conference held by Oppenheimer in June 1942 narrowed down the most likely choices. The projectile or "gun-type" method used a conventional explosive to fire a uranium slug into a uranium target, creating critical mass. This was used for the "Little Boy" bomb. Due to the scarcity of enriched uranium, this type of bomb never received a test run before the Hiroshima drop. Both the Trinity test bomb and the Nagasaki "Fat Man" bomb were plutonium-implosion devices, which used a ring of explosives to compress a plutonium sphere into a critical mass. The "gun" model was impossible to use with plutonium, which was much less pure than uranium and more likely to start a premature reaction and "fizzle".

The Mark 28 bomb is the oldest thermonuclear bomb in the US arsenal.

The newest bomb in the US weapons arsenal is the B 83 thermonuclear fusion bomb.

Much of the Oak Ridge workforce discovered the results of their labors at the same time the world learned the news.

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory continue progress in neutron science, advanced materials, supercomputing and nuclear energy.

A supercomputer model demonstrates distributed computing using Raspberry Pi miniature computers at the American Museum of Science and Energy (http://amse.org/).

A tree slowly consumes a sign

The international friendship bell signifies the theme "Born of war, living for peace, growing through science" and incorporates the Oak Ridge-Japan historical link. The bell is the first U.S.-Japan monument at any Manhattan Project site.



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