J. Robert Oppenheimer

Work That Made History

J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Laboratory's first director, summed up what most residents felt when he reported, "Almost everyone knew that this job, if it were achieved, would be a part of history. This sense of excitement, of devotion, and of patriotism in the end prevailed."

The Oppenheimer Years


J. Robert Oppenheimer

At 5:29:45 am MWT on July 16, 1945, the world's first atomic bomb exploded 100 feet over a portion of the southern New Mexico desert known as the Jornada del Muerto - the Journey of the Dead Man. As he witnessed the nuclear explosion, the man most responsible for the bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, thought of a passage from the Bagavaad Gita: "I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds." The creation of the atomic bomb made Oppenheimer one of the most recognized and controversial figures in American history.

Keywords: devotion history Laboratory director patriotism

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