Five fascinating artefacts from the birth of the A-bomb
We take a look at five fascinating artefacts from the birth of the A-bomb
The development of the atomic bomb changed the course of history forever. Below are five artefacts that tell the story of the most terrible and destructive weapon ever developed by mankind.
**5. Ted Carlson’s correspondence - $10,000 **
Ted Carlson was a lab engineer on the Manhattan Project - Image: Signature House
Ted Carlson was a laboratory engineer involved in the development of the Manhattan Project. This archive features hundreds of letters written to friends, colleagues and family members.
One letter in particular stands out. It was written to Carlson’s parents on August 7, 1945 – the day after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
It begins (sic): “Dear Mother and Father, As you have undoubtedly realized by now, the cat is out of the bag. Did you guess right away when they announced the harnessing of atomic power (For that is the important thing)
“Use as bombs is only a monument to the stupidity of the human race who should know better than to spend their time fighting each other, It is very unfortunate that we should have to use this new and marvelous advance to kill our fellow men.”
It made $10,000 in a sale at Signature House in California in 2005.
3. Hiroshima eyewitness account – $13,000
The account was authored in part by Tom Ferebee, who dropped the bomb - Image: Signature House
These handwritten eyewitness accounts were authored by James Corbliss and Tom Ferebee, respectively the flight engineer and bombardier aboard the Enola Gay, in 1997.
Ferebee was the man who psychically flicked the switch and dropped the bomb. He writes: “When the bomb left the AC I stood up & watched to see if it was falling free until I could no longer see it as Paul was in a tight turn, and when we leveled out the cloud was at our altitude.
“It was a horrible sight and I had never seen anything to compare it to.”
He continues “My main concern was that it had worked and that maybe soon all the millions of people could go home.
“I never dreamed that today we would still be asking questions about it. I was married after the war & had 4 boys & it was not discussed at home and has never bothered me and I would do it again under the same circumstances. I'm sure it saved millions of lives by helping bring the war to a close."
The accounts sold for $13,000 at Signature House in 2004.
4. Signed atomic bomb development report - £72,000 ($141,696)
The book is signed by Robert Oppenheimer and other members of the Manhattan Project - Image: Christie's
This copy of “Atomic Energy for Military Purposes. The Official Report on the Development of the Atomic Bomb Under the Auspices of the United States Government” is signed by 47 members of the Manhattan project.
The signatories include various leading members of the project, such as J Robert Oppenheimer and Richard Feynman.
It made £72,000 ($141,696) at Christie’s London in 2006.
**2. Enola Gay logbook - $391,000 **
Captain Lewis wrote the logbook in the air over Hiroshima - Image: Christie's
Captain Robert A Lewis piloted the Enola Gay on its August 6 raid on Hiroshima in 1945. His logbook contains a blow by blow account of the bombing, which was written while the crew were actually in the air.
Lewis writes in the inside cover of the book "a great deal of the notes were written in almost complete darkness. Halfway through I ran out of ink”.
He writes of the explosion: "I am certain the entire crew felt this experience was more than anyone human had ever thought possible. It just seems impossible to comprehend. Just how many did we kill? I honestly have the feeling of groping for words to explain this or I might say My God what have we done. If I live a hundred years I'll never quite get those few minutes out of my mind..."
The logbook sold for $391,000 at Christie’s New York in 2002.
**1. Einstein’s letter to Roosevelt - $2m **
Einstein wrote this letter to Roosevelt on the military potential of harnessing nuclear fission - Image: Christie's
Einstein wrote this letter to Roosevelt on the potential of harnessing nuclear power to create a bomb. In the end the letter was not sent – a near identical letter by Leo Szilard (signed by Einstein) was delivered, although the content of the two letters is near identical.
It is undoubtedly one of the most significant manuscripts in history.
Einstein writes: “Less certain, but to be kept in mind, is the possibility of making use of such chain reactions for the construction of extremely powerful bombs.
“Such bombs may be too heavy for transportation by air plane, but not too heavy for being carried by boat, and a single bomb exploded in a port might very well destroy the port together with the surrounding territory."
Shortly after Roosevelt read the Szilard letter he announced the formation of the Manhattan project.
This alternate example sold for $2m at Christie’s in New York in 2002.
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