For the testers, Little Boy, as the bomb dropped over Hiroshima was called, worked as it should have. So who tested “Fat Man?”
“Nobody,” Miller said. “It was never tested.”
The bomb was transported in a lead suitcase with the key scientists who took it to Tinian Island. The explosive lenses, required to make the bomb work as it should, were shipped separately on the U.S.S. Indianapolis. The sinking of this ship was one of the biggest scandals of World War II, but important to this phase of history. The ship had just dropped off the lenses on Tinian when it ran into a water mine or a Japanese ship.
Just three days after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima the second atomic bomb, called Fat Man, was dropped on Nagasaki. Though the amount of energy generated by the bomb dropped on Nagasaki was significantly larger than that of Little Boy, the damage done to the city was slighter than that done to Hiroshima due to the geographic structure of the city. It is estimated that approximately 70,000 people died by the end of the year because of the bombing.
The Armistice came shortly after. General Douglas MacArthur accepted the surrender and Los Alamos became a ghost town.
“There was nothing to do, no more war to fight. I just thought they would discharge us, hopefully in time for college to start,” Miller said. “Everyone I knew at Los Alamos had a Ph.D. and I figured I’d starve to death if I didn’t get one too.”
September 1, the first day of classes at the University of Illinois, which Miller had chosen to attend, came and went, and he still had not been discharged.
“I just gave up,” he said. “And since I knew I wasn’t going to get home to go to school, I organized my own college.”