This Day in History
First Nuclear Fission Scientist Team

The First Nuclear Fission
December 2, 1942

Since the beginning of time, mankind has searched for sources of energy. However, it was not until 1934 that the Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard formulated a theory of a nuclear chain reaction with limitless power, and took out a patent on the idea. By that time physicists everywhere - Borh in Denmark, Heisenberg in Germany, Lawrence in California - were working feverishly on the problem of splitting the atom to create unprecedented power. When Hitler launched his crusade to conquer the world, he assigned physicists the task of making an atomic bomb. Fearful that the atomic bomb would give Hitler certain victory, Leo Szilard urged his associate Albert Einstein to warn President Roosevelt of this immeasurable threat. Roosevelt responded promptly by creating the Manhattan Project to make the bomb. The masterminds of the project were recruited largely from Europe - Nils Bohr from Denmark, Einstein from Germany, Fermi from Italy, Szilard from Hungary, and nearly one hundred other scientists recruited from a dozen countries. The group worked out the scientific and engineering problems and produced the first atomic chain reaction on December 2, 1942. On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was exploded at Los Alamos, with a force that astonished even its makers. When Churchill heard the news, he exclaimed prophetically, “This is the Second Coming - in wrath.” Today nuclear power is harnessed not only for weapons, but also as a source of energy.

January's Archived Features:

Monday January 1, 2018
Tuesday January 2, 2018
Wednesday January 3, 2018
Thursday January 4, 2018
Friday January 5, 2018
Saturday January 6, 2018
Sunday January 7, 2018
Monday January 8, 2018
Tuesday January 9, 2018
Wednesday January 10, 2018
Thursday January 11, 2018
Friday January 12, 2018
Saturday January 13, 2018
Sunday January 14, 2018
Monday January 15, 2018
Tuesday January 16, 2018



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2017. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.