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Oppenheimer’s secret city, explained

How Los Alamos built Oppenheimer’s bomb.

Los Alamos quickly became the centerpiece of the Manhattan Project, the United States’ successful attempt to develop a nuclear bomb. But why was Los Alamos selected, and how did that relate to the selection of the subsequent testing site? The above video tells the story of Oppenheimer’s selection of the site and the unique culture that was built there.

Los Alamos was more than a lab — it was a secret city, built for the express purpose of atomic development. Housing top scientists, their families, and support staff, this island of research led to a century-changing technological development.

Further Reading

  • This logistical history provides great non-scientific background on the Manhattan Project, including the selection, distribution, and construction of key sites around the country, as well as a guide to the bureaucracy that surrounded it.
  • This Department of Energy history covers similar ground with additional information on the Army Corps of Engineer’s role.
  • This document provides a fine-grained look at the nitty-gritty of Los Alamos, from prices at the commissary to accommodations for the residents.

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