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'Oppenheimer' and the Blast That Shocked the World

A still from the film Oppenheimer.

There are moments in human history that defined and altered the course of life on this planet. From the Ice Age to the Donation of Constantine, these natural or human-made events ushered in new epochs that turned everything that came before obsolete. On July 16, 1945, a new age began in the Jornada Del Muerto desert in New Mexico when the first Atomic Bomb was detonated in what is now known as "The Trinity Test." This singular event created a new world order that continues to bring life to the brink of self-destruction.

A few weeks after the "Trinity Test, on August 6, 1945, the very first nuclear weapon was used in active conflict when a United States B-29 Superfortress aircraft called Enola Gay dropped the Atomic Bomb, codenamed "Little Man," on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Three days, a second bomb, "Fat Man," was dropped on Nagasaki. The destruction caused by these two weapons to these two cities was something the world had never seen before or since.

What led to these defining moments, encapsulated in the famous "Manhattan Project," is the subject matter of Christopher Nolan's latest film, Oppenheimer.

The film, starring Cillian Murphy as the head of the Manhattan Project, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Matt Damon as Lt. Col. Leslie Groves, Emily Blunt as Kitty Oppenheimer, Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss, Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, Rami Malek as David Hill, and Jack Quaid as Richard Feynman, among others, is already getting "Movie of the Year" buzz weeks before opening day.

As with Nolan's previous works, his attention to visual and musical details in creating and recreating his worlds is of the highest order and compels the audience to immerse deep into his tales. With cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, Nolan weaves together visuals set to remain in his audience's consciousness for a long time. In terms of the original score, Nolan has worked with some of the best composers in the world, such as Hans Zimmer for Dunkirk and now Ludwig Goransson for Oppenheimer.

Given that the film is set in the 1940s, there is also a good load of Swing and Big Band music. Oppenheimer's production team used tracks from various sources, including APM Music, for those good bits.

Check out this Big Band playlist featuring some of the best Swing tracks from APM Music's massive catalog.

APM Music's Big Band Playlist - Some Tracks used in Oppenheimer
APM Music's Big Band Playlist


The Manhattan Project: A Timeline


  • Fearing the potential of atomic weapons, Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard urged the U.S. government to initiate nuclear research.


  • On December 7, the attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into World War II, intensifying the need for advanced military technologies.


  • In June, the Manhattan Project was officially launched under the direction of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

  • In August, Construction begins on the first production site at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to enrich uranium.


  • January: Construction starts on the plutonium production site in Hanford, Washington.

  • September: J. Robert Oppenheimer is appointed the Los Alamos Laboratory scientific director in New Mexico.


  • February: The first full-scale plutonium production reactor becomes operational at Hanford.

  • July: The first batch of enriched uranium is produced at Oak Ridge.


  • April: The first successful nuclear reactor test, Chicago Pile-1, is conducted at the University of Chicago.

  • July 16: The "Trinity" test takes place in the New Mexico desert, successfully detonating the world's first atomic bomb.

  • August 6: The Enola Gay drops the "Little Boy" bomb on Hiroshima, instantly devastating the city and killing tens of thousands.

  • August 9: The "Fat Man" bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, causing further destruction and casualties.

  • August 15: Japan announces its surrender, marking the end of World War II.

  • September: The Manhattan Project is officially disbanded, and control of atomic research is transferred to the United States Atomic Energy Commission.


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