History Podcasts

Who Invented the Atomic Bomb?

Who Invented the Atomic Bomb?

Who invented the atomic bomb? The question is a bit misleading, as modern scientific research did not progress as it did in the days of Archimedes, with one scientist shouting “Eureka!” upon his discovery after laboring for months in solitude. As with many other inventions, the development of the atomic bomb was not a one-man project. Several people discovered and developed certain aspects of the bomb, and even before the first bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, scientists across the world were working on nuclear projects.

Albert Einstein's Involvement

Many people refer to Albert Einstein as the inventor of the bomb, but this is actually very far from true. Apart from coming up with the Relativity Theory E=mc2, stating that a small amount of matter could release a lot of energy, Albert Einstein's only involvement in the development of this weapon of mass destruction was to sign a letter, urging the U.S. to develop the bomb. This was a decision Einstein, as a pacifist, had great regrets about. Physicists Eugene Wigner and Leo Szilard convinced Einstein to sign the letter because they knew that Germany had managed to split the uranium atom and they were fearing that Germany was already working on an atomic bomb.

MAUD Report

The British Maud committee created a report that suggested that it should theoretically be highly possible to create a deliverable atomic bomb. This report was presented to President Roosevelt, and the American government decided to pour more funds into the Manhattan Project.

Julius Robert Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer was the leader of the scientific team in the Manhattan project and is often called the “father of the atomic bomb.” Yet again, he was not the sole inventor of the bomb, but its invention was the result of the collaboration among his team members, many of which were also exiles from Europe.