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Manhattan Project

Far away from public sight, the most consequential scientific innovation during World War II was the creation of the atomic bomb through the top-secret Manhattan Project. Inspired by refugee scientists from Europe including Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard, supervised by the US Army Corps of Engineers under General Leslie Groves, and with Dr. Robert Oppenheimer leading the scientific team, the United States engaged in a secret race to produce an atomic weapon before the Nazis. Under the Manhattan Project, the US military operated secret plants in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington, to produce the needed uranium and plutonium elements necessary for a bomb. Isolated in remote Los Alamos, New Mexico, a tremendous team of physicists worked to create a viable detonation system. The $2 billion project employed over 125,000 people across America, most of whom had no idea what they were working on, and eventually led to the dramatic Trinity test in the New Mexico desert in July 1945, leaving the United States to face the question: was the atomic bomb a sufficient enough weapon to bring World War II to an end?

Manhattan Project gallery video, featuring physicist Robert Oppenheimer, Arsenal of Democracy

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    Andrew Higgins and the Atomic Bombs

    The National WWII Museum has long highlighted the wartime contributions of Andrew Higgins and his company, Higgins Industries, in building thousands of landing craft that were vital to amphibious invasions. Now the institution is exploring a little-known role the New Orleans company played in the Manhattan Project as America raced to develop an nuclear weapon.

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