Nerdy high schooler Jerry Mitchell is assigned to write an article for the school paper about the infamous new delinquent transfer student, Buddy Revell. When Jerry accidentally invades Buddy's personal space and touches him, Buddy challenges Jerry to an afterschool fight in the parking lot, which Jerry tries to avoid at all costs.
Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard leaves Europe, eventually arriving in the United States. With the help of Einstein, he persuades the government to build an atomic bomb. The project is given to no-nonsense Gen. Leslie Groves who selects physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to head the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, where the bomb is built. As World War II draws to a close, Szilard has second thoughts about atomic weapons, and policy makers debate how and when to use the bomb.