Oppenheimer: The Tragedy of Science Muddled by Politics

‘Now I become death, the destroyer of worlds.’ – Hindu sacred text from Bhagavad Gita

From the bucolic obscurity of Los Alamos, New Mexico, American physicist Julius Robert Oppenheimer had burned his midnight oil to build the first atomic bomb – the Trinity – that would end World War II and inadvertently start the Cold War between the United States and Russia.

The Trinity we are referring to are the first successful test of an atom bomb in Los Alamos – and the actual dropping of the another two bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in Japan. Estimates had it that 70,000 have died at Hiroshima and another 40,000 have died at Nagasaki for a total of 110,000 souls.

On the morning of August 6, 1945, “Little Boy” with some 15,000 tons of TNT had been dropped on Hiroshima, instantly incinerating its inhabitants to kingdom come as the atmospheric nuclear explosion associated with the mushroom cloud caused by nuclear reaction resulted to the release of a high-speed energy wiping out everything in its path.

Three days after the Hiroshima bombing on August 9, a second dubbed “Fat Man,” a 10,000 pound, 60-inches diameter atom bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki by a USAF B29 with similar catastrophic results.

The late US President Harry Truman may had wanted to end the war immediately as the Imperial Army of Japan had been stubbornly fighting it out to the death with the last of their inexperienced young pilots hurling their Zero fighter planes onto US forces. “Little Boy” and “Fat Boy” sent the message across to the Japanese Emperor to immediately surrender and to show Russia of the US military might.

While the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced Japan to the negotiation table, it started the nuclear arms race between the US and Russia. This Cold War had been played out when Russia sent nuclear war heads in Cuba which started the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis or the Missile Scare in 1962 that pitted the US against Russia, with the late Cuban President Fidel Castro welcoming USSR’s nuclear war heads, all of which directed to the major cities in the United States. The nuclear warheads under the belly of a democratic nation almost started World War III just after the failed invasion of Cuba by US-led mercenaries which Castro described as gusanos (worms), escoria (trash), or “the Miami Mafia.” The failed invasion started the exodus of more than one million Cubans into Miami, US.

After the mass destruction brought out by the detonation of the two atom bombs, Oppenheimer has already turned against the idea of developing the “The Super” Hydrogen Bomb which is said to be more powerful than those dropped in Japan.

For all the travails that had befallen Oppenheimer, touted as the “Father of the Atomic Bomb,” who had been dragged into deep political underpinnings in the corridors of power having been accused as a Soviet spy, a security risk, and a “cry-baby” by no less than President Truman — in December 2022, US President Joe Biden has posthumously voided the US Atomic Energy Commission’s 1954 decision to revoke Oppenheimer’s security clearance, which he described as “biased and unfair.” In the end, Oppenheimer just like fellow scientist Albert Einstein remained a pacifist, whose brilliance may had brought the very end of mankind via these weapons of mass destruction.

When asked when did he develop moral convictions against the H-bomb, Oppenheimer said: “When it became clear to me that we would use any weapon we had.”

Watch the film “Oppenheimer” now showing at the IMAX, SM City Clark. Actor Cillian Murphy plays the great physicist with so much passion and detail to the storied life of the great scientist.

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