How the Manhattan Project got its name

Humans are marvelous creatures. One of our more endearing traits is to accept apparently contradictory ideas with a smile and without a second thought. Example: no one seems to think it odd that the Manhattan Project- which gave us the ultimate spicy meatball of atomic weapons- was based primarily in Los Alamos, New Mexico. And if the Pace Salsa ads are to be believed, New Mexico is to New York as Poland is to the Wermacht. But a new book,  The Manhattan Project, reveals the largely secret origins of the Allies' nuclear weapons program- smack dab in the middle of North America's largest urban centre.

Turns out, Manhattan had at least 10 sites dedicated to the A-Bomb project, most of which are still standing. Columbia University was heavily involved, and at one point the entire football team was enlisted to truck crates of Uranium around campus. I'd be interested to find out how the football team did that year- did they a) lose, due to acute radiation poisoning, or b) have their best season ever, since their quarterback 'somehow' developed the ability to shoot lasers out of his eyes?

The vast majority of New Yorkers have no idea of their city's nuclear heritage. Probably because none of the former nuke sites are marked. But fear not: according to the US Department of Energy, "Radiological surveys show that the site now meets applicable requirements for unrestricted use.” Phew.

So there you go. The Manhattan Project's name actually makes a lot of sense. Take that, New Mexico.


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