I recently got into a discussion with colleagues regarding quantum mechanics and the Manhattan Project. My colleague (not a physicist) conjectured that it was mostly an engineering feat with little need for quantum mechanics.
I disagreed, arguing that it would be silly to hire some of the world's top physicists (i.e Enrico Fermi, Hans Bethe, Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, Richard Feynman, Eugene Wigner, Leo Szilard) and enlisting the assistance of others (i.e. Niels Borh) if their physics skills, especially regarding quantum mechanics, weren't needed.
Did the Manhattan project discover anything that would reasonably be considered a discovery in physics? For example, did they discover anything about radioactive decay that was not previously known?
It would also be interesting to comment on whether or not any significant problems or challenges were solved using techniques unique to physics.
NOTE ::: This has been moved to the History of Science and Mathematics.