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The Birth of the Manhattan Project

     The Manhattan Project began with a few key discoveries by scientists all over the world. In 1905 Albert Einstein wrote the equation E=mcÓ meaning that matter could be turned into energy. Scietists calculated that one pound of uranium could be as destructive as 8,ooo pounds of TNT if used in a bomb, if not more, all by splitting of the atom. This was known as the discovery of uranium fission. Fearing the Nazis would discover the atomic bomb first Leo Szilard and Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt urging the president to fund research on the atomic bomb. This is a piece from the beginning of the letter:
"Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard which has been communicated to me in manuscript, lead me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future... This new phenomenon would lead to the construction of bomb, and it is conceivable - though much less certain - that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory."

       In the end the president approved it, but only gave $6,000 to buy the uranium for the experiments Leo Szilard proposed.