Oak Ridge, TN
07.07.2011 - 07.07.2011 32 °C
Thursday we had booked a tour up to Oak Ridge, Tennessee called the Secret City Tour. We had a scenic drive up to Oak Ridge and then a nice lunch before we had the opportunity of touring a branch of the American Museum of Science and Engineering.
What a facinating place Oak Ridge is. It is one of the locations chosen by the US government in 1940 to participate in the Manhattan Project - the super secret project which developed the Atomic Bomb. The army went in and fenced off 27,000 acres of land in this isolated area of the Tennissee hills. They went about building a community which would eventually employ over 75,000 workers. They were building a research and manufacturing center to develop methods of extracting uranium 235 - a key component of the atom bomb. The project was so secret that it was not located on any maps and there were extraordinary practices put in place to ensure secrecy. Few people there knew what the project was about. Most people were not told what exactly they were doing or why - they were just told what to do and they got on with it. At that time there were 4 theories on how to best extract Uranium 235 so they built 4 facilities to research and pursue each theory. Dr. Robert Openheimer headed this project. Some methods were more successful than others and ultimately they were successful in producing the uranium for the first atomic bombs including the one dropped on Hiroshima August 6, 1945. Now they focus on producing radio isotopes for medicine - or that's what they are telling us! They took down the fencing, opened Oak Ridge and put it on the map in 1949.