Quitting the Manhattan Project

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The Manhattan Project is among the most significant events in world history. There were those who came and went in the quest to create the first atomic bomb, but only one physicist quit for moral reasons: Józef Rotblat.

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The Strangest Dream is an entire documentary devoted to Rotblat's decision to step away from the Manhattan Project. After Rotblat quit, he was accused of being a communist spy before proving a set of so-called incriminating documents were forged. Unfazed by these accusations, however, Rotblat went back to the UK to study the effects of nuclear fallout on subjects and wound up winning a Nobel Peace Prize. This document not only recounts Rotblat's tribulations, but meditates on the use of nuclear technology in weapons.

You can watch the whole documentary online by heading over to the website for Canada's National Film board, or by clicking play below. [NFB]

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DISCUSSION

The creation and use of nuclear weapons was inevitable.

The Germans knew the basics in 1934. If it wasn't for a poor decision by Hitler to stop the research, Nazi Germany would have had the bomb as early as 1942-43.

And, if not them, the Russians would have learned of the research in 1945 from captured scientists.

Given 15-20 years, they would have most likely had a bomb.

The science that let us know an atomic bomb was possible came out in 1905.

Their creation was inevitable.

Now, look back at history.

Which country that could have developed them first; Nazi Germany, Communist Russia or War-weary America, would have used them in the most responsible way an atomic bomb could have been used?

Nazi Germany: Would have bombed England out of existence shortly after developing it, then used it on Russia, and eventually on the US.

Russia: Depends on when exactly they developed it. Had they developed it in the late 40's-early 50's, it would have been used against Europe most likely, and Czechoslovakia almost definitely. The later they developed it, only changes the nations they would have used it against and for what exact reason.

America: Used it to end a war that encompassed almost every nation in the world. Warned the Japanese before the first was dropped of what was coming if they didn't surrender.

Warned them that we were going to do it again when the first didn't bring on a surrender.

After the war was over, the weapon was put away. (yes, we were out, and my not have been able to build more for months, but no one else knew that)

The US could have bullied the world into doing what it wanted. But even at the height of the crisis in Berlin, when an endless stream of supplies were being flown into West Berlin, their use wasn't even threatened.

People still deride the US for using the atomic bomb.

But if we hadn't, someone else would have.

And, think about the nations that could have developed it.

If it had to be used, (which was inevitable), the US did it in the most responsible way.

(Hiroshima and Nagasaki both were major strategic targets even if the civilians weren't)