Einstein and the Atomic Bomb

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Did you know that Albert Einstein was part of a series of events that led to the creation of the atomic bomb? Understand Einstein's role in World War II history.

To learn about life, his career as a scientist and much more, go to: Albert Einstein: biography, scientific production and phrases.

Einstein's letter to Roosevelt

Albert Einstein became one of the most famous physicists of all time, largely for his studies in the field of Nuclear physics. Through his famous equation — E = mc² — Einstein showed that pasta and energy they are interchangeable, preparing the ground for the study of nuclear energy and, consequently, the atomic bomb.

THE Einstein's participation in the process of creating the atomic bomb it went a little beyond his mathematical theory. The physicist even sent a letter to the then president of the United States of America, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, so that he would rush into the creation of the bomb, before the Nazis made their own nuclear bomb. The one who warned Einstein of this possibility, in turn, was a former co-worker, Leo Szilard.

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From a refrigerator to the atomic bomb

In 1920, Einstein worked, with Hungarian graduate assistant Leo Szilárd, on the development of an energy-efficient refrigerator. Although the duo's invention was never released to the public, the two met a few years later during the creation of the atomic bombs.

In 1933, the year in which adolf hitlerbecame the chancellor of Germany, Szilárd discovered the existence of the nuclear chain reaction, a process that, theoretically, it should be able to release large amounts of energy and that it brought with it an enormous potential for undoing. In 1939, Szilárd became convinced that the Germans were intent on using nuclear energy from chain reactions for war purposes. Leo Szilárd contacted his former colleague, Einstein, telling him to alert President Roosevelt of the impending threat.

The rise of the Manhattan Project

Szilárd visited Albert Einstein at his home in New York along with the Hungarian physicists Edwardteller and EugeneWigner. At that time, Einstein had fled (some years ago) from the regime Nazi, who had placed a $5,000 prize for his capture, since Einstein was a Jew.

During his meeting with Szilard, Teller and Wigner, Einstein was startled by the possibility that his famous mathematical equation (E = mc²) could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction. For this reason, Einstein, Wigner and Teller wrote a letter to Roosevelt, in which they asked for agility in the creation of a nuclear program, before Germany was able to produce its own warheads nuclear weapons.

In 1939, about two months after receiving the letter, Roosevelt created the Advised Committee on Uranium (Uranium Advisory Committee), the forerunner of ProjectManhattan, responsible for creating the atomic bomb.

See too:Learn more about the Manhattan Project

O start of the Advisory Committee of Uranium was shy: only $6,000 was invested in its creation, so Einstein and Szilárd continued to write letters to Roosevelt. In one of these letters, Szilárd even threatened the president of the United States, saying he would publish a article with the main discoveries about nuclear energy, if the investment in the program were not enlarged.

The insistence of physicists led to the creation of the Manhattan Project, which, just a few months later, came to produce the first fully functional atomic bombs, dropped in Japan, on cities in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So it can be said that Einstein helped to light the spark of the Manhattan Project, but his participation came down to this, since the physicist did not have access to the project's agenda, nor to its intentions.

Read too: Nuclear bomb drop on Hiroshima

Fat man was the name of the warhead launched over the city of Nagasaki, Japan.
Fat man was the name of the warhead launched over the city of Nagasaki, Japan.

After the bombs were dropped on Japanese territory, Einstein was devastated. The physicist also had his image linked to the event on magazine and newspaper covers, even though he was unaware of the intentions of the United States government. Despite this, in an interview with a Japanese magazine in 1952, Einstein stated that he was aware of the danger that experiments with nuclear reactions could bring to humanity, but he saw no other exit.

See too:Find out what were the effects of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Atomic bomb explosions caused between 90,000 and 166,000 deaths in Hiroshima and between 60,000 and 80,000 in Nagasaki. Many people lost their lives over the days following the explosions as a result of burns and radiation poisoning.

Manhattan Project

O ProjectManhattan it was a secret undertaking by the US government, with support from England and Canada. The project was started during World War II and lasted between 1942 and 1946. RobertOppenheimer, an American theoretical physicist, was the director of one of the main laboratories responsible for the creation of the bombs. little boy and Fatman, the laboratory thealamos.

During its operation, the Los Alamos laboratory produced only two types of nuclear warheads: the implosion bombs, like the Fat man bomb, launched in Nagasaki, which worked with Plutonium-240, and the firing bomb, like the Little boy bomb, dropped in Hiroshima, based on Uranium-235. The bombs, each in its own shape, extract the energy from the nuclear fission of heavy atoms to produce an enormous reaction in chain, releasing between 15 kilotons and 21 kilotons of energy, that is, the energy equivalent to the explosion of 21 tons of dynamite.

The Little Boy atomic bomb, detonated 600 m above Hiroshima, had the destructive power of 15,000 tons of TNT.
The Little Boy atomic bomb, detonated 600 m above Hiroshima, had the destructive power of 15,000 tons of TNT.

All this energy, however, is the equivalent of fissioning a few grams of fissile matter: the bomb detonated at Hiroshima, for example, converted only 0.69 g (of 6 kg of uranium) directly into energy. According to the resting energy formula, developed by Albert Einstein, the energy released AND by the fission of a mass m is given by:

AND - energy

m - pasta

ç —speed of light (3.0.108 m/s).

According to the formula above, 1 g of cracked material is equivalent to 9.0.1016 J, equivalent to 25.109 kwh. If we take into account that a home consumes about 160 kWh per month, this amount of energy is enough to power it for the next 13 million years!

See too: How does nuclear fission work?
By Me. Rafael Helerbrock

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