Grove City College begins its own Manhattan Project

The Grove City College departments of Physics, History and Political Science are hosting a series of events this academic year to understand and reflect on the atomic bomb, the Manhattan Project and the implications and consequences of creating the world’s ultimate weapon.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the detonation of the first nuclear weapons developed by the Manhattan Project, the top-secret wartime effort that brought military, scientific and technological expertise together in a race against time to build the first atomic bomb. 

The first event in the series is set for 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, in Sticht Lecture Hall in the Hall of Arts and Letters on campus when retired physics Professor Richard A. Leo presents “The Story behind the Manhattan Project: A First Person Dramatization.” 

Leo, who taught physics at the College for 37 years, will discuss the history and development of the bomb by portraying Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, who led the Manhattan Project scientists, and Army Gen. Leslie Groves, the project’s military commander. The discussion will also look at reasons for dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945 and the effects of those detonations.

Leo, 2004’s Professor of the Year, is considered a “GCC icon” by many on campus, according to physics professor Dr. DJ Wagner, who is coordinating his discussion. Plans for his presentation this fall sparked a faculty discussion that led to the year-long, interdisciplinary series exploring the bomb’s impact, Wagner said.

“Seventy Years Since the Manhattan Project: A Semester-Wide Reflection” will challenge students, faculty and the community to dig deeper into one of the last century’s greatest discoveries and worst nightmares.

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