The Manhattan Project for Modern Energy Needs

Vincent Chen
March 14, 2016

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2016


Fig. 1: Sites important to research, development, and testing of the Manhattan project. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Seventy years ago, the Manhattan Project was approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. [1] This project focused on technological and scientific development has effects still felt in nuclear medicine, military defense, terrorist threats, and energy production today. [1] Under the fear that the German President Adolf Hitler would develop one to support his campaign for conquest and racial oppression, U.S. scientists worked in secret to develop a this nuclear weapon during the 1930s and 1940s. [2]

New Potential in Old Systems

Over the last few decades, a recent boom in technology innovation in the United States have soared. With a better understanding of how the Manhattan Project developed, people have considered initiating a project of similar scale to address the nation's growing energy needs. Government funds have the potential to create the necessary market environment in order for a Manhattan Project for energy to succeed. [3]

Implementation and Modern Implications

In a 2013 publication to the New York Times, Naomi Oreskes implies that the present day environment that made the Manhattan Project possible simply does not exist. [3] The original Manhattan Project was a collaboration of the Free World against time. It was a race against the Nazis, and money was not an objective. For a unique moment in time, people were building for innovation, not for the lucrative opportunities.

As seen in Fig. 1, the Manhattan Project utilized the full force of United States and Canadian geography for development efforts. After the Manhattan Project, a network of national research laboratories was formed: [4]

Today, how do we go about using what we learned from the "Atomic Age" to re-inspire technologists and scientists to bond together? Our first step is to recreate the sense of urgency in the American race against the Nazis. This time, the humanity races against itself, as it reaps its own planet of sustainable resources.

© Vincent Chen. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] B. Shore and G. Zollo, "Managing Large-Scale Science and Technology Projects at the Edge of Knowledge: The Manhattan Project as a Learning Organisation," International Journal of Technology Management 67, 26 (2015).

[2] L. R. Groves, Now It Can Be Told; the Story of the Manhattan Project (Harper, 1962).

[4] A. M. Weinberg, "Impact of Large-Scale Science on the United States," Science 134, 161 (1961).

[3] N. Oreskaes, "We Need a New Manhattan Project to Deal With Climate Change," New York Times, 14 Nov 13.