Homeschooling Teen

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His Story, His World: Atomic Energy

By Aubrey Tuggle, 17

It was an average winter day on December 2nd, 1942. Everyone went about their business just like any other day, never suspecting that something would happen that would change their lives. Deep under the bleachers of the West Stands of Stagg Field at the Chicago University, scientist Enrico Fermi was hard at work on something potentially world changing. He was building a furnace. But this wasn’t a regular kind of furnace that used wood as fuel. This furnace would use uranium instead. This was because Enrico Fermi knew something very important. He knew that if a neutron from an atom hit another atom, the atoms would split and give off energy. If he could get the flying neutrons to hit another atom and those neutrons to hit yet another atom it would go on like that forever. If he could get this chain reaction to happen, he would have made away to get atomic energy and it could be used for all sorts of things. The furnace was a test. Could he start the chain reaction? Slowly Enrico pulled up the rods that worked the machine. Would anything happen? He pulled them up a little more. The instruments began to register. Something was happening… Suddenly Enrico pulled up the rods to there full length! Things started happening! The instruments registered more and more energy, the furnace heated up… It worked! Enrico had found a way to make atomic energy.

Soon, scientists began discovering ways to use this new energy. As they began to make exciting new discoveries about this new energy and how it could be used, one very big idea began to grow in their minds, one that would change America. In fact, if this idea worked, it would not only help us, but it could change the world! It was so important, in fact, that the government got involved and built a secret laboratory way out in the middle of nowhere to test it. This idea was the atomic, or nuclear, bomb. Out in their secret laboratory the scientists worked on what they called the Manhattan Project; the code name for the building of the atomic bomb. They worked many months on it before it was finished, but in 1945 it was finally finished and ready to test.

The bomb (code name: Trinity) was tested at Alamogordo, New Mexico 1945. The bare, dusty New Mexico plain provided a perfect testing ground. There were no animals or people around except for the scientists, and no plants either. There was just a dry, brown, plain with no sign of life and nothing except the ground to be damaged. They prepared to set it off. Would it work? Many unspoken questions hung in the air. And so, the very first atomic bomb ever was set off. There was a deafening roar, and a huge cloud of dust and debris came up. The sky turned deathly black because of all the debris. When the effects of the bomb wore off, there was a crater many miles long. The bomb worked better than any bomb before. The scientists were thrilled! Not only had they invented a more powerful weapon than ever before, but this proved that men could control atomic energy and use it how they wanted.

On the 16th of July, 1945, 8:15am, only three years after the atomic furnace, the atomic bomb was used. It was made of a piston with a small block of uranium at the top of the piston and a big ball of it at the bottom. There was a trigger at the top of the piston and when it was pressed it would send the block of uranium crashing into the ball. This force and conductive material would cause trillions of atoms to split and causing trillions of tons of energy to be released. It was World War 2, and America planned to bomb the Japanese town of Hiroshima. The bomber plane flew over the town and dropped the bomb. It exploded, killing thousands of people within a thirty mile radius. Fireballs flamed up that blew away anything in their path. Hurricane winds and firestorms raged over large areas. Radioactive debris rained down for hours afterwards. This event helped turn the tables and we soon won the war.

Now that the peace of our country was ensured, atomic energy began to aid our productivity in yet another way. Scientists now new quite a lot about atomic energy and they soon revolutionized the industries by their discoveries. Farmers began to use it in testing fertilizer, and making helpful mutations to plants. Doctors use it to identify and remove tumors. And lots of people use it as electricity in their homes. Atomic energy is still being experimented with to find out all its uses, and it has very great potential for the future. Scientists have even mentioned that perhaps someday cars will use atomic energy instead of gasoline to run! We hope that in the future atomic energy will continue to be an aid to us.

Here is my byline: Hi! My name is Aubrey Tuggle, and I am a seventeen year old freshman. I am the oldest of three siblings under seven, so the house is never quiet! However, I still find time to pursue my hobbies of reading and writing. I would love to become a freelance writer, and am pursuing a writing career. 


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