Memorable man in science
In this issue we will be highlighting one of the rare scientists that didn’t only make a scientific impact, but also a very big political one; Robbert J. Oppenheimer.
“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” Solemn words spoken by Oppenheimer in an interview about his most well-known achievement, the atomic bomb. Also one of his most well-known quotes, and in it Oppenheimer’s personality shimmers through. An undeniably elitist intellectual, with a flair for the dramatic and charisma in spades. He quoted from the Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Vidu, meaning to reflect on the emotions in Los Alamos after the first atomic detonation was successful. Although he speaks the words sincerely and passionately in the interview (which is impressive) in reality he didn’t come up with such high quality material on the spot. At the actual moment the mushroom cloud formed his inner scientist took over and exclaimed “It worked!”
And it certainly worked, with a power of 18.7 kilotons of TNT to be precise. The first atomic detonation was a fact after the trinity test in July 1945. After three years of work, when the first paper regarding a hypothetical atomic bomb had been shown to the American government, the hypothetical had become a nasty reality. The group working in Los Alomos to make it a reality consisted of twenty-one Nobel or future Nobel laureates, next to a horde of excellent other scientists and engineers. Oppenheimer managed to oversee this army of geniuses and not only understood their opinions, but managed to condense them all in one clear vision that he managed to sell to the military. When asked about Oppenheimer Los Alamos’ scientists come up with answers like "We were all completely under his spell," and "He had this mystic streak […] Sometimes he made foolish judgments and sometimes he just liked to tell tall stories. […] He was a most remarkable fellow."
He also was a most remarkable fellow as a student. He was...