Was the Manhattan project a good use of the resources

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Baruch Menachem, Oct 9, 2010.

  1. Baruch Menachem
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    Baruch Menachem '

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    Having made the bombs, I think they were used correctly, but I kind of wonder if the whole Manhattan project was a waste of resources better used elsewhere. We spent tons of money, resources, brain power, etc on their development, and most of the time since we have had them, they have been more of a threat to us, than a threat we could use.

    Would it have been better to have spent all those resources on developing jets, (Which came in early 45) rockets, ships, tanks etc?

    Since we sent all that resource into researching the bomb, we had an opportunity cost on other ways we could have used the resources. Things that might have produced better results sooner. It would have been cooler if we could have moved into France a year earlier, and all the personell in New Mexico could have been producing materials to do that.

    And the painful reality about any tech is that it is easily copyable once you know it works and what the ingredients are. Despite a lack of materials, the Russians were able to do a bomb in 1949, large portions of the research based on US materials.

    Had we concentrated on other projects, the Russians, for internal political reasons, probably would not have bothered either.

    The main goad for the Manhattan project was that the Germans seemed well on their way. It was a German attempt to refute the work of Fermi that led them to replicate one of his experiments. Fermi, not being a chemist, didn't know what he had done, but the Germans went one step beyond and explained what Fermi's experiment did.

    Fermi's next experiment would have been better as a power source design rather than a bomb design. Building bombs with nuclear energy seems to have been a waste, it would have been cooler if Femi had gone the next step and said "Gee, we could power ships with this tech!" rather than "Lets see if we can make it go boom"
     
  2. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    Baruch, you need to read 'The Making of the Atomic Bomb', by Richard Rhodes. It gives some very interesting insights into the scientific history leading to the development of nuclear weopons.

    It was December of 1938 that two physcists realized that a chain reaction was possible. They published, and only a year later, a Japanese physicist that taught at the equivelant of a Community College, wrote a paper that accurately described the operation of a thermonuclear weopon. Of course, describing how one would work is lightyears from being able to build one, fortunetly for us. But once the process of a chain reaction was realized, the genie was out of the bottle.

    Had we not developed the bomb, consider the position we would have been in had the Soviet Union developed it in 1950 while Stalin was still alive.
     

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