What if the Manhattan Project never happened?
Posted: 29 January 2011 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Now here’s a real mind f# of a question.
But, it is more interesting than all that endless god drivel, and other mumbo jumbo.

WHAT IF
Hitler had not been quite so powerful?  What if the Manhattan Project never came together?

What might 1960 have looked like?
What might 2010 have looked like?

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Posted: 29 January 2011 08:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 29 January 2011 02:51 PM

WHAT IF
Hitler had not been quite so powerful?  What if the Manhattan Project never came together?

If Hitler had not been so powerful the Jews would not have left Europe for the U.S. and if the Jews had not left for the U.S. there would not had been the Manhattan Project. Or something like that.  grin

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Posted: 29 January 2011 09:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I think a more interesting question is:

What would have changed if Werner Heisenberg had not deliberately sabotaged the German nuclear arms program by introducing a subtle mathematical error into his equations?

Germany would have developed a nuclear bomb first. Where would they have used it? Could the United States have responded in kind soon enough to prevent the rest of the world from surrendering to Germany?

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Posted: 30 January 2011 12:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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DarronS - 29 January 2011 09:02 PM

I think a more interesting question is:

What would have changed if Werner Heisenberg had not deliberately sabotaged the German nuclear arms program by introducing a subtle mathematical error into his equations?

Wow! Heisenberg as in ‘Heisenberg Uncertainty’? I did not know he was ever a part of the German war machine! “What if,” indeed!

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Posted: 30 January 2011 12:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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DarronS - 29 January 2011 09:02 PM

What would have changed if Werner Heisenberg had not deliberately sabotaged the German nuclear arms program by introducing a subtle mathematical error into his equations?

Deliberately? That is ‘not certain’, see here.
The ‘Atomkeller’ in Haigerloch is the place where the germans did their experiments:

5ca59f03-b359-40b9-b5ac-49fc60816931.jpg

Compare this with Fermi’s testreactor:

220px-Stagg_Field_reactor.jpg

If you could understand german, here is an interesting link. In the first paragraph is described how Heisenberg reaches the first chain reaction in 1945. And he was glad it stopped because they had no security measures.

And the Nazi never took the bomb very serious. Otherwise they would have spend much more effort in it.

GdB

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Posted: 30 January 2011 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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If the Japanese would have surrendered even without Nagasaki and Hiroshima (some argue this), then the Manhattan project would have been a waste of money and resources.  Japan was not the reason for the Manhattan project, originally, Germany was.  Americans (as well as Einstein) were afraid that Germany would develop the bomb first.  With hindsight we know that Germany would not have developed the bomb before its destruction.  The result was that America now had nuclear weapons at the end of WWII.  The Russians stole the secrets of building a bomb from a scientist working on the Manhattan project and developed nuclear weapons themselves.  For the next 45 years, the world was threatened with the risk of all out nuclear war.  The Manhattan project is trumpeted as a huge success story, scientifically and technically it was, but I don’t think it made the world a better place.  If some kind of communication breakdown happened during the cold war that led to an all out exchange of nuclear weapons (which almost happened many times), then the Manhattan project would have been a huge mistake.  The world would be a better place if the Manhattan project had never happened.

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Posted: 30 January 2011 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The way that science and technology continually move forward it is doubtful that nuclear weapons would not have been developed eventually.  Either countries hungry for power or countries fearing nuclear blackmail would eventually feel compelled to invest in the capability.  Any benefits from not having a Manhattan project would be temporary.

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Posted: 30 January 2011 10:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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GdB - 30 January 2011 12:56 AM
DarronS - 29 January 2011 09:02 PM

What would have changed if Werner Heisenberg had not deliberately sabotaged the German nuclear arms program by introducing a subtle mathematical error into his equations?

Deliberately? That is ‘not certain’, see here.
The ‘Atomkeller’ in Haigerloch is the place where the germans did their experiments:

5ca59f03-b359-40b9-b5ac-49fc60816931.jpg

Compare this with Fermi’s test reactor:

220px-Stagg_Field_reactor.jpg

If you could understand german, here is an interesting link. In the first paragraph is described how Heisenberg reaches the first chain reaction in 1945. And he was glad it stopped because they had no security measures.

And the Nazi never took the bomb very serious. Otherwise they would have spend much more effort in it.

GdB


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I warn you my German reading and writing abilities are grade school level, but I think I got the spirit of the thing:

Haigerloch, 1945
A not-good feeling disturbed W. Heisenberg and K. Wirtz -
they didn’t know how to stop an atomic chain reaction.

Difficulties with the security . . . {whatever… lost me there.
Well I went back and basically there was no security and it scared the scientist…
but crist it was middle Nazi German, before the public knew what an atom was.}

Then there was a little kink in the curve, the reaction didn’t happen.
The team of physicists around W.H & K.W breathed a sigh - while being simultaneously much disappointed.
Their goal, the first nuclear reactor pile failed.

Don’t you just gotta love that second sentence   surprised
And I’m sure I got that right:
“Ein ungutes Gefühl beschleicht Werner Heisenberg unf Karl Wirtz - sie wissen nicht, wie eine unkontrollierte Atomkettenreaktion zu stoppen wäre.”

[ Edited: 30 January 2011 10:58 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 30 January 2011 10:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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. . .  love them old school physicists… following in the proud tradition of Madam Curie.

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Posted: 30 January 2011 10:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Now that I’m thinking on it. . . talk about the Woo of Fractals

Haigerloch, 1945
A not-good feeling disturbed W. Heisenberg and K. Wirtz -
they didn’t know how to stop an atomic chain reaction.

looks to me like we still don’t

[ Edited: 30 January 2011 10:27 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 10 February 2011 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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GdB - 30 January 2011 12:56 AM

Deliberately? That is ‘not certain’, see here.

And the Nazi never took the bomb very serious. Otherwise they would have spend much more effort in it.

That is interesting.  I never heard of that before.

No A-bomb might have meant invading Japan.  There were lots of scary estimates of how many lives that would cost on both sides.

I think they should have just made a naval blockade and sent planes over to destroy industry.  But there was the problem of the Russians wanting to invade Japan.

Of course since the Russians got lots of atom research via spies there might not have been a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union.  No Cuban Missile Crisis.  No Failsafe and Dr. Strangelove.

psik

[ Edited: 10 February 2011 01:52 PM by psikeyhackr ]
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