TLDR: The Calutron Girls were a group of young women who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. They operated machines called calutrons, which were used to separate uranium isotopes for the production of enriched uranium. This enriched uranium was used to make the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
During World War II, the United States wanted to develop nuclear weapons, but they needed a specific type of uranium called uranium-235. However, most of the uranium found in nature is a different type called uranium-238. Scientists had to find a way to separate the two types of uranium, and one method they used was the calutron.
The calutron was a machine that used a process called mass spectrometry to separate the uranium isotopes. The women who became known as the Calutron Girls were recruited to operate these machines because there was a shortage of scientists and many men were fighting in the war. These women were mostly high school graduates and were chosen for their hard work ethic and loyalty.
The work of the Calutron Girls was top secret, and they were not told what they were actually doing. They were only given instructions on how to operate the machines and monitor the dials and meters. They had to keep everything confidential and were not allowed to talk about their work. They worked long hours, seven days a week, and had to be very careful and precise in their work.
After two years of operating the calutrons, the women finally learned the true nature of their work when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Some of the women had mixed feelings about their involvement in the project, but they understood that it was necessary to end the war.
Today, there are only a few surviving Calutron Girls, and their stories have been shared in books and interviews. They played an important role in the development of the atomic bomb and the Manhattan Project.