Robert Oppenheimer quoted from the Bhagavad Gita when he first saw the atomic bomb. He was afraid of the power he had created. There was a heated discussion before the test about the reactivity of the gasses in our atmosphere. Some were afraid that the bomb would ignite the atmosphere, killing everything on the planet. That was the assessed risk that Oppenheimer took when they tested the first bomb in the desert. Science had little idea what this new weapon was capable of. The truth was unveiled a few weeks later in Japan.
What silent agonies have been endured in the name this branch of science?
What elemental secrets of the universe have been laid bare by this branch of science?
Converting an atom into energy is the greatest, and simplest, expression of physics we know of. Oppenheimer said that the notion for the bomb was so simple, it was perfect. He called it “technically sweet”. Take a ball of Uranium and surround it with a sphere of high explosives. Detonate the explosives at once, crushing the ball of Uranium equally from all directions. The pressure and physics of this situation converts some of the Uranium into energy. That energy constitutes the bomb’s blast wave. The unused and converted Uranium vaporizes so that it clings to any surface it touches. It’s a simple idea that horrifies and fascinates at the same time.
The United States is planning to restart nuclear testing this year. Nevada will once again feel the heat of an artificial sun. Now is a good time to re-evaluate the reasons that we, as a people, decided to stop nuclear weapons testing. We have already backed out of our strategic agreements with Russia concerning nuclear weapons research. What purpose does SDI serve? What purpose does renewed testing serve? Does the United State need to rattle the nuclear saber in 2006?
We have no enemies that need a reminder of our nuclear might. We should not test the nuclear bunker-buster. What seems like a simple idea can have far reaching, and unknown consequences. In the current political atmosphere, what effect will this bomb have?