Enemies, A Love Story

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At Los Alamos

Learning to Love the Bomb

by Jeremy Bernstein

The atomic bomb not only hastened the surrender of Japan to end World War II. In the decades that followed it also altered the course of American foreign policy and national security, and brought profound changes to American culture and everyday life. The feeling of power that grew from owning the most dangerous weapon in world history was matched by a nagging fear that some crisis or some madman might set it off. While suburban families considered whether to build underground bomb shelters in their backyards, schoolchildren learned how to “duck and cover” in the event of nuclear attack. In retrospect, naiveté about The Bomb and its effects was legion. This ultimate weapon had been developed at government laboratories in Los Alamos, New Mexico, by a team of outstanding physicists under the direction of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Upon seeing the results of the first detonation of an atomic device, the test director Kenneth Bainbridge is said to have remarked to Oppenheimer, “Now we are all sons of bitches.”  Yet the physicists could scarcely contain their fascination with what they had wrought, as Jeremy Bernstein finds in this report from ground zero.

At Los Alamos details:

ISBN: 978-1-937853-45-7

Words: 5,439

Pages: 12

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Tags:  Nuclear weapons - physics - uranium - Oppenheimer - atomic bomb