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Three methods were employed for uranium enrichment: electromagnetic, gaseous and thermal.Most of this work was performed at the Clinton Engineer Works at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.It maintained control over American atomic weapons research and production until the formation of the United States Atomic Energy Commission in January 1947.The discovery of nuclear fission by German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann in 1938, and its theoretical explanation by Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch, made the development of an atomic bomb a theoretical possibility.The Thin Man gun-type design proved impractical to use with plutonium, and therefore a simpler gun-type called Little Boy was developed that used uranium-235, an isotope that makes up only 0.7 percent of natural uranium.
Along the way, the project absorbed its earlier British counterpart, Tube Alloys.
Despite the Manhattan Project's tight security, Soviet atomic spies successfully penetrated the program.
The first nuclear device ever detonated was an implosion-type bomb at the Trinity test, conducted at New Mexico's Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range on 16 July 1945.
In parallel with the work on uranium was an effort to produce plutonium, which was discovered at the University of California, Berkeley in 1940.
After the feasibility of the world's first artificial nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1, was demonstrated in 1942 at the Metallurgical Laboratory in the University of Chicago, the Project designed the X-10 Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge and the production reactors at the Hanford Site in Washington state, in which uranium was irradiated and transmuted into plutonium.