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The Manhattan Project was the code name for the federally funded, United States research program to develop an atomic bomb.
The project was led by Enrico Fermi, Italy's greatest physicist in modern times, and University of Chicago physicist Arthur Compton. Both Fermi and Compton were Nobel Prize recipients.
The team of scientists they led worked on a squash court beneath the long since dismantled west stands of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago.
The squash court was the only convenient, large space available on the university campus for the team of scientists to build a "nuclear pile."
The result of their work was the first successful, self-sustaining, chain reaction initiating the controlled release of nuclear energy. Simply stated, it was the first nuclear reactor.
Immediately after the successful test in 1942, the entire team moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico where they would ultimately conduct, on July 16, 1945, the first successful detonation of an atomic weapon near Alamogordo, New Mexico.
The U.S. wasted no time in using the new technology.
On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped "Little Boy," a uranium bomb nicknamed after Franklin Roosevelt, on Hiroshima, Japan.
Three days later on August 9, 1945, the U.S. dropped "Fat Man," a plutonium bomb nicknamed for Winston Churchill, on Nagasaki, Japan.
On August 15th, a month after the New Mexican test bomb was detonated, Japan's Emperor Hirohito announced their surrender.
Earlier articles discussing the squash court connection to the Manhattan Project:
Note: In his book, "Squash: A History of the Game," James Zug states this court was actually a racquets court and not a squash court at all. Zug is a highly regarded historian and his statement should be noted. However, the archivists at the University of Chicago reference the activity taking place on a squash court.