“The Bomb: a Life” by Gerard DeGroot (1)

Some excerpts from the book.

On what went on at the wartime American nuclear research centre at Los Alamos, New Mexico:

In the lab the scientists focused on fission, at home on fusion. Nearly 1000 babies were born between 1943 and 1949, including 200 during the war.

A remark by Stalin to Beria about the Soviet scientists working their butts off to build the Bomb:

“Leave them in peace. We can always shoot them later”.

On the bonuses awarded to the Soviet scientists by Beria after the successful first Russian nuclear test:

According to one account, Beria used a rather macabre method to decide the distribution of awards. Those who would have been shot if the test had failed were given the accolade of “Hero of Socialist Labour”. Those who only would have been given a long prison term were given the Order of Lenin, and so on to lesser punishments and more modest rewards.

Szilard (one of the creators of the American Bomb) on the clumsy, 1950s Hollywood doomsday production “The Beginning of the End”:

“If our sin as scientists was to make and use the atomic bomb, then our punishment was to watch ‘The Beginning of the End'”

Lyrics from a Sheldon Allman’s song:

Radioactive mama, hold me tight
Radioactive mama, treat me right
Radioactive mama, we’ll reach critical mass tonight
Well when we get together clear away the crowd
There won’t be nothing left except a mushroom shaped cloud

From the episode of “The Simpsons” (pun on an oft-used description of the World after a nuclear war):

In a 1995 episode of “The Simpsons”, Sidebar Bob threatens to detonate a ten-megaton missile (which he steals from Air Force hangar) unless all television is eliminated. “In a world without television … the survivors will envy the dead”, Krusty remarks.

On the arms control treaties:

Arms control treaties are never inspired solely by a noble consideration of what is right. They are instead self-interest wrapped in virtue.

On the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ratified in 1970:

Nobel Prize winner Philip Noel-Baker found it depressing that nations could agree on inconsequential while leaving important issues in dispute. “While disarming Antarctica”, he remarked, “we got 7000 weapons in Europe; we should have disarmed Europe and put those weapons in Antarctica”.

“The Bomb: a Life” by Gerard DeGroot (2)


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