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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 1940s  1942

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The first nuclear weapons-related accident occurred on this date in the city of Leipzig, Germany involving Nazi atomic scientists Werner Heisenberg and Robert Doepel. While demonstrating Germany’s first neutron propagation experiment, workers checked the atomic pile for a heavy water leak. During the inspection, air leaked in igniting the uranium powder inside. The burning uranium boiled the water jacket which generated enough steam pressure to blow the reactor apart. Burning uranium was dispersed throughout the laboratory which triggered a fire at the facility, causing an unknown number of casualties.

Colonel Leslie Groves is promoted to Brigadier-General and put in charge of the Manhattan Project. He recruits J. Robert Oppenheimer as Scientific Director.

Construction of Calutrons begin at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. 

Groves and Oppenheimer select the site of the boys’ school Los Alamos in New Mexico for the Manhattan Project. Oppenheimer tours the United States recruiting top scientists and persuading them to move to New Mexico. Edward Teller is among the first group of 100 to accept.

Enrico Fermi and his team at the University of Chicago produce the world’s first controlled and sustained nuclear fission reaction. Leo Szilard and Fermi originate the method of arranging graphite and uranium, which makes the reaction possible.

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More on the Web
Enrico Fermi

Leo Szilard Online

The Unofficial Trinity Site Page

Los Alamos National Laboratory