Oppenheimer: A Landmark Report on the Atomic Bomb Sold at Auction

This important document of the Manhattan Project, signed by Oppenheimer himself and other leading scientists, will be auctioned shortly after the Oscars ceremony, where Christopher Nolan’s film about the physicist has a good chance of being crowned.

A document of considerable historical importance will soon be auctioned off. On March 14, collectors will be able to snap up the latest report of the infamous Manhattan Project, signed by the illustrious Oppenheimer and his colleagues just before the fateful bombings that precipitated the end of World War II.

This text of about 200 pages, soberly titled “Atomic Bombs,” recounts the technical and administrative details of this project. It was handed over to the U.S. government just a fortnight after the famous Trinity nuclear test, which ended with the detonation of the Gadget — the very first nuclear bomb in history. And most importantly, it directly contributed to the airdrops of Little Boy and Fat Man on Hiroshima and Nagasaki five weeks later.

It was written by Henry D. Smyth, a physicist and diplomat who was instrumental in the development of this technology. The latter was an important member of the famous Manhattan Project, the great program to develop the atomic bomb. According to the auction house RR Auction, this is most likely the first-ever public report on the genesis of the atomic bomb — a point that contributes greatly to its historical value.

A text signed by Oppenheimer and his colleagues

To top it all off, it was also signed by 24 of the Manhattan Project’s most prominent players. Perhaps the most famous of these is J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the program often referred to as the “father of the atomic bomb.” The first page bears the signatures of many great scientists, including several Nobel Prize winners, such as the pioneer of artificial radioactivity Enrico Fermi, the inventor of the cyclotron Ernest Lawrence, and the discoverer of the neutron James Chadwick.

Among the items listed are also numerous ancillary documents that discuss the ins and outs of the Manhattan Project, including a letter personally written by Oppenheimer that talks about nuclear proliferation and the Russian arsenal at that time.

Significant historical weight

The sale of this object is unlikely to break any records. At the time of writing, bidding has reached $35,433, or €32,582 at the current exchange rate. This is an almost derisory sum compared to Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester or the original copy of the United States Constitution, which sold for $30.8 million and $43.2 million respectively.

But beyond the rather modest price, it is still a document of almost inestimable historical value. Few objects can offer such a perspective on these events that have profoundly transformed our civilization and brought humanity into a new era marked by these weapons of mass destruction.

Oppenheimer at auction… and the Oscars

While waiting to know the final price, which will be determined on March 14, another event that is much more media-friendly will undoubtedly put the Manhattan Project back in the spotlight.

Indeed, Nolan’s blockbuster film that focuses on the tragic story of Oppenheimer is among the big favorites for the upcoming Oscars, the highest honor in American cinema.

We look forward to seeing on March 11 who the winners are; if Cillian Murphy and company’s performance wins the Holy Grail of American cinema, the price of Atomic Bombs could explode in the final stretch of the auction.

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Mohamed SAKHRI
Mohamed SAKHRI

I'm the creator and editor-in-chief of Tech To Geek. Through this little blog, I share with you my passion for technology. I specialize in various operating systems such as Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android, focusing on providing practical and valuable guides.

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