The TRINITY TEST. The photo above was taken aproximately one tenth of a second after detonation. Time lapse camers were used by the a US government to record the event. Color film was not developed adequately to create a lasting image. Color movies of the event have all deteriorated. The only color photo of the explosion that exists was taken by an bystander, it too shows signs of age. Robert Oppenheimer was inspired by John Donne’s poem above. “Better my heart, three-personed God”, as the code name for the first A-bomb test.

by Vince Bushell

Oppenheimer is a movie about the man, his thoughts, his feelings, his life.

There are lots of characters in this story. It is 3 hours long. I was dozing off once and a while. I may watch it again. But not soon. I first want to digest what I did see and compare it to what I knew before going into the theater. What I knew about the Trinity Test and the characters who did the work and celebrated the success of their work. And more important, the things that happened after the test.

It was known Germany in 1939 was aware of the possibility of a nuclear weapon, a bomb. A big bomb. And the physicists in the U.S. knew of the horrors and evil of Hitler and the Nazis in Europe. It was believed that Hitler would not hesitate to use a new weapon regardless of the damage and human suffering it would cause.

Hitler was the impetus to build the bomb. This was the rationale used to justify the cost and effort despite the risk to humanity such a bomb would bring.
But by the time the bomb was ready, Germany was defeated. And for what purpose was this super weapon to be used now that its reason for being was void?

What about Japan? We were still at war with the Japanese. Some of the physicists had doubts about using the weapon against helpless cities. Some politicians and some physicists wanted to move ahead. Roosevelt was dead and Truman was the decider. Along with military leaders and some scientists.

Oppenheimer found himself kicked out of the nuclear club he had organized and nurtured into existence. His patriotism was put in doubt.

Edward Teller stepped forward to lead the way with new evil enemies to thwart. The bomb was used on Japan and the creators cheered and then paused. What had they wrought? How do scientists measure their moral responsibility for their discoveries?

Oppenheimer was known as the father of the atom bomb. Teller, who testified against Oppenheimer at a government inquiry, talked of the new demon. The Soviet Union and their scientists. Teller knew there could be a bigger bomb. The Hydrogen Bomb. Teller became the father of the H-bomb without any apologies about its creation. The goal was to be a step ahead of the Soviets and Communism.

How accurate the movie’s depiction of Oppenheimer’s state of mind after being denied access to nuclear secrets as being judged untrustworthy and unpatriotic to his country, is questionable. But the movie successfully creates an atmosphere of the time in history when the atom was split and the incredible power that heats the sun was brought to the earth and released.

Oppenheimer the movie is an excellent depiction of the times that changed our world forever and of the characters that filled the roles that made it happen.

I was born after the bombs were dropped. But I have lived in the shadow of the terror.

Atom bombs begat H-bombs and ICBMs, rockets to carry the weapons to the enemy’s cities in minutes. The theory of protection became MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. If you dare – you too will die in the all consuming fire. This has worked for a while. But the technology has spread and more countries have the bomb.

Would a terrorist use one to prove a point? The terror has subsided as MAD has seemed to work in preventing an all out nuclear war or even to use such a bomb on a city again. But now the Soviet Union has collapsed and Russia has feinted as a new threat. Putin hints he could use nukes if he is thwarted in his attack on Ukraine. The terror has risen again.

Oppenheimer tells how we got here but not how to put the genie back in the bottle.

Notes on Nukes

Notes on Nukes
I often look toward the sun and feel its rays striking my face. Then I look at a tomato  plant or a  tree, and see a bird flitting about and a butterfly too. And I think all energy on earth comes from the sun.  Except.
 Except vapors and lava coming from the earth’s core. And maybe some gravitational kinetic effects from the moon, earth, and sun. 
And except that which we extract from splitting the atom.  Peacefully in reactors or the only use as a weapon on two cities in Japan - the atomic bomb.        And most horribly from fusing atoms in hydrogen bombs. 
Maybe some day from fusing atoms peacefully as another source of generating electricity. And  we save the earth from global warming

Einstein, Teller

Edward Teller quotes Einstein, (1939), “This is the first time we will get energy directly from the atomic nucleus rather then from the sun which got it from the atomic nucleus.” from a video

Tellers quote is the first step that culminated in the Trinity Test in 1945. Einstein agreed to write a letter to Roosevelt to begin the Manhattan Project. This heralded the beginning of the nuclear age. 

Post the bombs success, we lived in a bubble of fear of nuclear annihilation. I remember playing outside on a sunny warm day in Racine. And what we called, Air Raid Sirens would go off. Was this the end? At the age of 8 or so, vaporized by a nuke? Or was it a test?
Bombers were replaced by missiles on land and in submarines. Nukes got bigger or smaller as needed. The Soviet Union and the United States made some minimal agreements about MAD and arms agreements and testing.
Tension lowered. Eventually the Berlin Wall came down. Soviet Union downsized and is now Russia again.
Air Raid Sirens became dangerous weather sirens for now.
All the while the earth heats up as CO2 percentage rises in the atmosphere. Climate change is championed or ignored depending on your political leanings.