Race for the Bomb: Part 2

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The Race For the Bomb: Part 2

Blog Post #007
Do we really have Adolf Hitler to thank for the U.S. building the first Atomic Bomb, in a way yes.


Inviting Einstein

As Leo Szilard observed the development, study and possible implementation of atomic fission in a Nazi Germany, they felt the strong urgency to tip the balance more to the Allies. Szilard had immigrated to the United States, fleeing the rise of war in Europe. Once he arrived, he reached out to a fellow physicist, a very well known physicist, Albert Einstein to help get a letter to then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt warning of the possibility of German developing an atomic weapon based on atomic fission. Einstein agreed and signed the letter which called for an aggressive dedication of resources in atomic research and development.

The British Bomb

The United Kingdom was also working in the field of atomic energy and fission. Following work by other leaders in the field, Canada’s Earnest Rutherford and Britain’s James Chadwick, German immigrants Otto Frisch (remember him for Otto Hahn and the discovery of fission) and Rudolph Peierls, under direction of Prof. Mark Oliphant University of Birmingham, England, showed the feasibility of an airborne weapon in 1940. They showed that Critical Mass, the amount of nuclear material needed to sustain an atomic chain reaction in a sphere of uranium 235, could be achieved in a sphere as small as 1 to 10 kg. They published their finding in “Memorandum on the Properties of a Radioactive Super Bomb” (aka the Frisch-Peierls Memorandum) in which they described in detail what it would take to build an atomic bomb but what the effects of the nuclear blast and the radioactive fallout. Their conclusion was that the only defense against such a weapon was to have an atomic bomb of your own as deterrence. IF they through of this it is probable that so did Germany.

Thanks again Adolf

In July 1940, Hitler set his sights on the conquest of England, the last major hold out against the Nazi Blitzkrieg across Europe. With the outbreak of the Battle of Britain Winston Churchill felt the pressure continue atomic bomb research but understood the urgency to protect it. Het authorize the sharing of England’s atomic bomb research with the United States. With this research, the Frisch – Peierls Memorandum and a letter from Winston Churchill push President Roosevelt to create the Manhattan Project. October 1941.

Czar Bomba

Russian physicist studied and worked with European scientist from 1920 through the late 1930s, sharing thoughts and research with Ernest Rutherford and James Chadwick. They also followed closely the discovery of fission by Otto Hahn. But was not until 1940 when Leonid Kvasnikov, a chemical engineer, noticed that research about uranium was being pulled from western publications and deduced that the Allies had probably made a break through. Unfortunately, the People Commiserate of Internal Affairs (NKVD) did not wish to trouble Stalin with this information. Then, in 1942, Russian Physicist Georgy Flyorov, passed updated information on the developing Allied research into atomic bombs to Stalin who then directed a formation of an atomic bomb program; demanding the creation of an atomic bomb within 5 years. Espionage aided the Soviet program by solving many of the early problems facing the Allies. With that, the USSR still not detonate their first atomic bomb; designed in the same fashion as FAT MAN, called First Lightening (not Czar Bomba that comes later).

Einstein Roosevelt Letter

Einstein Roosevelt Letter

Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls
Gregor Flyorov

Gregor Flyorov
Churchill serveys damage done by Luftwaffe bombers

Churchill serveys damage done by Luftwaffe bombers
Brian York • Curator, Exhibits & Collections
Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum

Brian started his career at the Museum in 1998 as an intern. A year later he was promoted to Associate Curator with a focus on managing the artifact and archive collection. In January of 2000, following a search for a new Curator, the Museum named Brian York as Curator of Exhibits and Collections. For more than 20 years, Brian has overseen the creation and/or installation of more than 120 exhibits and displays that have covered more than 300,000 square feet. He has also overseen the addition of 15,000 artifacts to the Museum’s collection and has provided in-depth research for numerous books, articles, and video/film productions.

Currently Brian oversees all historical exhibits, archives, library, and oral history projects as well as provides support for restoration, education and public relations. Brian earned a BA in History as well as Graduate Studies in History from the University of Nebraska – Omaha. Prior to joining the Museum, Brian gained valuable experience through his work with the General Dodge Home, National Park Service and Western Heritage Museum (now the Durham Museum).

In 2002, Brian joined the U S Navy Reserve with whom he has completed several assignments in the United States and abroad. He currently serves as Battalion Supply Senior Chief Petty Officer and BRAVO CO. Lead Chief Petty Officer for Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 22 and with Operational Support Unit 1362, Navy Operational Support Center Omaha.

Brian lives in Lincoln, NE with his wonderful wife Amber and their two amazing daughters, Cayleigh and Shannyn.