The first detonation of an atomic bomb led to the destruction of Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki (right).
The first detonation of an atomic bomb led to the destruction of Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki (right). Wikipedia

DAY IN HISTORY: Atomic bomb first detonated in 1945

THE sun dawned not only a new day but a new era as the American army successfully detonated the first atom bomb in the desert of New Mexico on the morning of July 16, 1945.

The Manhattan Project, named after where the research began, followed on from observations by scientists Enrico Fermi and Albert Einstein that the atom could be potentially weaponized.

The US Government granted $6000 for research but after the country became embroiled in World War II, limits were removed and Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves was charged with bringing together some of the world's greatest minds to develop a weapon that would bring about the end of hostilities.

However, it was under the direction of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer that the team overcame the final hurdles and the project began to take physical form in the New Mexico desert.

Finally, on the morning of July 16, nearly 200kms south of Santa Fe, the lead scientists and few dignitaries observing from just nine kilometres away, detonated the first atom bomb.

The mushroom cloud burst 40,000 feet into the sky and produced the destructive power of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT.

The platform to which the bomb was rigged was vaporized.

The detonation, Oppenheimer recalled, brought to mind the Hindu scripture: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

The US quickly put practice into action, dropping two bombs, nicknamed 'Little Boy' and 'Fat Man', on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war in 1945.


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