[Daily article] July 16: Project Y

The Los Alamos Laboratory was a secret laboratory in a remote part of
New Mexico established by the Manhattan Project during World War II and
operated by the University of California. Its mission was to design and
build the first atomic bombs. The laboratory was designing a plutonium
gun-type fission weapon called Thin Man until April 1944, when it
determined that the nuclear reactor-bred plutonium in the bomb could
predetonate before the core was fully assembled. Robert Oppenheimer
reorganized the laboratory, and orchestrated an all-out effort on an
alternative design, an implosion-type nuclear weapon called Fat Man. The
gun-type Little Boy was developed using uranium-235. The laboratory also
built an aqueous homogeneous reactor, and researched the hydrogen bomb.
The Fat Man design was used in the Trinity nuclear test on 16 July 1945,
and laboratory personnel participated in the bombing of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki as pit crews, weaponeers and observers. Oppenheimer was
succeeded as director by Norris Bradbury in December 1945. After the
war, assembly activities moved to Sandia. The Los Alamos Laboratory
became the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in 1947.

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Today’s selected anniversaries:

1769:

Spanish friar Junípero Serra founded Mission San Diego de
Alcalá, the first Franciscan mission in the Alta California region of
New Spain.

1782:

Mozart’s opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail made its
premiere, after which Emperor Joseph II anecdotally made the comment
that it had “too many notes”.

1931:

Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie signed the nation’s first
constitution, intended to officially replace the Fetha Nagast, which had
been the supreme law since the Middle Ages.

1983:

A British Airways Sikorsky S-61 helicopter crashed in the
Celtic Sea in thick fog, killing 20 of the 26 on board, and sparking a
review of helicopter safety in the United Kingdom.

2007:

A magnitude 6.6 MW earthquake struck Niigata Prefecture, Japan,
causing a leak of radioactive gases from the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear
Power Plant.

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Wiktionary’s word of the day:

massasauga:
The rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus, syn. Crotalus catenatus) in the
family Viperidae, found in three subspecies.

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Wikiquote quote of the day:

  I’m not too sure old Phoebe knew what the hell I was talking
about. I mean she’s only a little child and all. But she was listening,
at least. If somebody at least listens, it’s not too bad.  
–The Catcher in the Rye

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