The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer -- the Unlikely Partnership That Built the Atom Bomb

The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer -- the Unlikely Partnership That Built the Atom Bomb

James Kunetka

Language: English

Pages: 1

ISBN: 1504671023

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In the summer of 1945, the world was changed forever. The bomb that ushered in the atomic age was the product of one of history's most improbable partnerships. Leslie Richard Groves was made overlord of the impossibly vast scientific enterprise known as the Manhattan Project. His mission: to beat the Nazis to the atomic bomb. So he turned to the nation's preeminent theoretical physicist, J. Robert Oppenheimer. In their three-year collaboration, the iron-willed general and the visionary scientist led a brilliant team in a secret mountaintop lab and built the fearsome weapons that ended the war but introduced the human race to unimaginable new terrors.

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atomic weapons—fireball, radioactive cloud, and weather—that it was decided that an incendiary mission should take place no earlier than the day after the nuclear attack. The meeting concluded with Parsons and Ramsey agreeing to meet with Groves to pursue the matter. A third and final Target Committee meeting was held in Washington on May 28. Groves and Norstad did not attend but sent General Farrell and Colonel Fisher as their representatives. Little had changed from the previous meeting,

Alamos, NM: Los Alamos Historical Soceity, 1996), 103. 17.    Letter, General Groves to Robert Oppenheimer, July 29, 1943, LANL. 18.    For the Lansdale quotes on Kitty, see Goodchild, 89–90. For his quotes on Robert and Kitty, see Rhodes, 626, fn 45. 19.    Charlotte Serber, “Labor Pains,” Standing By and Making Do (Los Alamos, NM: Los Alamos Historical Society, 1988), 57. 20.    Behind Tall Fences, no author, 168. 21.    Phyllis K. Fisher, Los Alamos Experience (New York: Japan

walls on three sides and the roof. The rear wall was a combination of wood and tarpaper with a set of double doors. The exposed front of the bunker had been protected with a long, sloping mound of earth that reached to the edge of the concrete roof. Oppenheimer stood at six feet and Groves just under, and both had blue eyes, although Oppenheimer’s were deeper and more striking. The physical similarities stopped there. Groves was far heavier, around 250 pounds, though his weight varied with

held what was at the time a tremendous unknown danger. . . . To set off such a reaction would require a very high temperature. But might not the enormously high temperature of an atomic bomb be just what was needed to explode hydrogen? And if hydrogen, what about the hydrogen of seawater? Might the explosion of an atomic bomb set off an explosion of the ocean itself?14 Compton’s response was practical: he asked if such a weapon could be produced in time for use in the war, as did Bush when he

his division the way it is done in military establishments—very conservative. The other was, of course, Seth Neddermeyer, who was the exact opposite of Parsons, working away in a little corner. The two never agreed about anything and they certainly didn’t want me interfering.29 Kistiakowsky quickly realized that he could not work with Neddermeyer, either. It was impossible to administer the implosion program if Neddermeyer was responsible for the scientific work. Kistiakowsky didn’t think it

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