Atomic Bomb Research Article from History Firsthand

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Some of the early work on the development of the bomb took place at the University of Chicago. The lab in Chicago was called the Metallurgical Laboratory (or Met Lab). Metallurgical means the study of metals, but the name was used only as a cover for its real work on the Manhattan Project. One of the first tasks the Met Lab was given was to ascertain whether a nuclear chain reaction could sustain itself in order to reach the critical stage and produce an explosion. As yet, the potential destructive power of a chain reaction was purely theoretical. If a bomb were to be created, the scientists would need to know that uranium could reliably sustain a chain reaction.

Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard were at the center of this work. They orchestrated the construction of an atomic pile — a crude atomic reactor — in...

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This section contains 416 words
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Buy the Atomic Bomb Encyclopedia Article
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Atomic Bomb from History Firsthand. ©2001-2006 by Greenhaven Press, Inc., an imprint of The Gale Group. All rights reserved.