Atomic bombs

These photographs were taken at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park during my around-the-world journey in 2002. I have been thinking a lot about Hiroshima lately, having just completed Richard RhodesThe Making of the Atomic Bomb. This 800 book chronicles the scientific work and historical events that made the atomic bomb a reality. It begins with ideas and calculations on paper, moves to laboratory experiments; is interrupted and simultaneously stimulated by the rise of fascism and death in Europe; shifts to the New Mexican desert for more experiments; and ends with the instantaneous destruction of cities along with more than 100,000 human beings.

Despite mountains of technical exposition and knowing how the story ends, the book reads like a John Grisham page-turner. There were some fascinating men and women at the center of the story. It is not exactly a summer beach book, but well worth a read.

In the epilogue Rhodes quotes Robert Oppenheimer, “If you are a scientist you believe that it is good to find out how the world works; that it is good to find out what the realities are; that it is good to turn over to mankind at large the greatest power to control the world and to deal with it according to it lights and its values.” Rhodes goes on to say, “Science is sometimes blamed for the nuclear dilemma. Such blame confuses the messenger with the message. Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann did not invent nuclear fission; they discovered it.”

It is unfortunate that science cannot develop formulas which successfully predict human behavior in the same way it revealed the nature of the atom.

1 thought on “Atomic bombs

  1. As someone who had the privilege of living in Japan for a number of years prior to returning to the United States, I have been to the Memorial myself and found the experience very moving. The book sounds thought provoking and I may give it a try, see what it has to offer.

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