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Terrible Beauty: Remembering the Manhattan Project

In late 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt and the United States government developed a top-secret plan: The Manhattan Project. See more historic photos in the full gallery at Life.com. 

Trinity Fireball

View of the atomic fireball following the test detonation of the first nuclear bomb, the Trinity test, held at the White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico,July 16, 1945.

Watching Trinity Fireball

Operation Greenhouse, 1951: High ranking military personnel sit in rows of deck chairs, wearing goggles, while illuminated by the flare of an atomic detonation at the Atomic Energy Commission's Pacific Proving Ground during Operation Greenhouse, 1951.

Time Life Pictures/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Now I am become Death

Oppenheimer famously said that witnessing the incredible violence of the test recalled to him lines from Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

Manhattan Project leaders, including Robert Oppenheimer (white hat) and Gen. Leslie Groves (center), inspect the ruins of the tower from which the first atomic bomb test was conducted, July 16, 1945, in New Mexico.

Los Alamos National Laboratory/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

J. Robert Oppenheimer

J. Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Institute for Advanced Study, working at blackboard.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Manhatttan Project workers leave Oak Ridge Facility in August 1945

Workers leaving the Oak Ridge Facility in August 1945, where knowingly or not they were working on the top secret Manhattan Project -- the development of the atom bomb.

Ed Clark/Life Magazine/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Trinity Fireball Full

A view of the atomic fireball following the test detonation of the first nuclear bomb, the Trinity test, held at the White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico, July 16, 1945.

PhotoQuest/Getty Images

Terrible Beauty: Remembering the Manhattan Project

In late 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt and the United States government developed a top-secret plan: The Manhattan Project. See more historic photos in the full gallery at Life.com. 

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