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November 24, 2012

Prometheus in the desert: from atom bombs to radio astronomy, New Mexico's scientific legacy


In the telling it has the contours of a creation myth:

At a time of great evil and great terror, a small group of scientists, among the world’s greatest minds, secluded themselves in the desert. In secrecy and silence they toiled at their Promethean task. They sought the ultimate weapon, one of such great power as to end not just their war, but all war. They hoped their work would salvage the future. They feared it could end everything. -- | The Verge

Posted by gerardvanderleun at November 24, 2012 7:20 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

A thought-provoking article about the terrors of atomic bombs and and their use in WW II, but like most on the subject, it overlooks provoking another less politically correct train of thought: that very many of its readers would not be alive today without this bomb and its cousins used against the Empire of Japan.

Without this brutal but decisive technology, we would have had to defeat Japan with the bodies of millions of men and women, Japanese and American, who instead lived to become their fathers and mothers.

Posted by: sherlock at November 25, 2012 6:04 AM

I agree, Sherlock. I might add a couple points to put things in perspective:

1-Those who object to the results of the application of these weapons always forget that if there were not Pearl Harbor and the ensuing Japanese aggression there would have been no need for them. Do the math, how many died on all sides in the war years prior to the detonations? Compare to the fatalities caused by the bombs. Factor in the projected lives saved as a result of the early end to the war, as you have mentioned.

2-On a larger scale, Man's inhumanity to Man has ever been with us. I recall reading some Old Testament where one army defended against an aggressor and "forty and four thousand were slain". That's a lot. And with what? Spears, swords, clubs. In recent years there was genocide in Rwanda and one faction slew the other to the tune of 80,000. Mostly with machetes.

It is not the weapons, never was. it is the people. We are only human, as the saying goes, and that's what stunts our growth.

So mote it be.

Posted by: chasmatic at November 25, 2012 8:34 AM

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