On This Day, July 16, 1945 – US Explodes World’s First Atomic Bomb

1945 – At 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project comes to an explosive end as the first atom bomb is successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Plans for the creation of a uranium bomb by the Allies were established as early as 1939, when Italian emigre physicist Enrico Fermi met with U.S. Navy Department officials at Columbia University to discuss the use of fissionable materials for military purposes. That same year, Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt supporting the theory that an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction had great potential as a basis for a weapon of mass destruction. In February 1940, the federal government granted a total of $6,000 for research. But in early 1942, with the United States now at war with the Axis powers, and fear mounting that Germany was working on its own uranium bomb, the War Department took a more active interest, and limits on resources for the project were removed.

Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves, himself an engineer, was now in complete charge of a project to assemble the greatest minds in science and discover how to harness the power of the atom as a means of bringing the war to a decisive end. The Manhattan Project (so-called because of where the research began) would wind its way through many locations during the early period of theoretical exploration, most importantly, the University of Chicago, where Enrico Fermi successfully set off the first fission chain reaction. But the Project took final form in the desert of New Mexico, where, in 1943, Robert J. Oppenheimer began directing Project Y at a laboratory at Los Alamos, along with such minds as Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, and Fermi. Here theory and practice came together, as the problems of achieving critical mass – a nuclear explosion – and the construction of a deliverable bomb were worked out.

Finally, on the morning of July 16in the New Mexico desert, 120 miles south of Santa Fe, the first atomic bomb was detonated. The scientists and a few dignitaries had removed themselves 10,000 yards away to observe as the first mushroom cloud of searing light stretched 40,000 feet into the air and generated the destructive power of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT. The tower on which the bomb sat when detonated was vaporized.


1779 – American troops under General Anthony Wayne captured Stony Point, NY.

1790 – The District of Columbia, or Washington, DC, was established as the permanent seat of the United States Government.

1791 – Louis XVI was suspended from office until he agreed to ratify the constitution.

1845 – The New York Yacht Club hosted the first American boating regatta.

1862 – David G. Farragut became the first rear admiral in the U.S. Navy.

1875 – The new French constitution was finalized.

1912 – Bradley A. Fiske patented the airplane torpedo.

1926 – The first underwater color photographs appeared in “National Geographic” magazine. The pictures had been taken near the Florida Keys.

1935 – Oklahoma City became the first city in the U.S. to install parking meters.

1940 – Adolf Hitler ordered the preparations to begin on the invasion of England, known as Operation Sea Lion.

1942 – French police officers rounded up 13,000 Jews and held them in the Winter Velodrome. The round-up was part of an agreement between Pierre Laval and the Nazis. Germany had agreed to not deport French Jews if France arrested foreign Jews.

1944 – Soviet troops occupied Vilna, Lithuania, in their drive toward Germany.

1950 – The largest crowd in sporting history was 199,854. They watched the Uruguay defeat Brazil in the World Cup soccer finals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

1951 – J.D. Salinger’s novel “The Catcher in the Rye” was first published.

1957 – Marine Major John Glenn set a transcontinental speed record when he flew a jet from California to New York in 3 hours, 23 minutes and 8 seconds.

1964 – Little League Baseball Incorporated was granted a Federal Charter unanimously by the United States Senate and House of Representatives.


1969Apollo 11 blasted off from Cape Kennedy, FL, and began the first manned mission to land on the moon.


1970 – The Pittsburgh Pirates played their first game at Three Rivers Stadium.

1973 – Alexander P. Butterfield informed the Senate committee investigating the Watergate affair of the existence of recorded tapes.

1979 – Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq after forcing Hasan al-Bakr to resign.

1981 – After 23 years with the name Datsun, executives of Nissan changed the name of their cars to Nissan.

2005 – J.K. Rowling’s book “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” was released. It was the sixth in the Harry Potter series. The book sold 6.9 million copies on its first day of release.

 

Source: On-This-Day.com; History.com