Thursday, July 21, 2005

The spate does not abate...

The J. Robert Oppenheimer outpouring continues. In the last year and a half alone, five biographies of him have been published. I was pleasantly surprised to find one more in the library by accident.

The Ruin of J. RObert Oppenheimer and the Birth of the Modern Arms Race by Priscilla McMillan.

A novel that promises to be a unique read was published in June:

Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet conjures up a novel reincarnation of the souls of three primary protagonists of nuclear energy; Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, and Leo Szilard. ANYTHING else that happens later in such a book promises to be revealing, and I am sure Millet set herself a hard task.

It's understandable that the father of the atomic bomb has suddenly become a focus; it's his one-hundredth anniversary. But I believe that it is a propitious time; the current policy makers would do well to heed the message of Oppenheimer and his time. Some things do not change, and now more than ever, we need to know the basic principles for arms control and disarmament that were set out during those times. They are still very much pertinent, and we seem to have forgotten them. The other important lesson to be learnt from that era is simply that soul-searching and exploring alternative political philosophies is a ludicrous excuse for declaring people to be traitors or dangerous. The 'with us or against us' lobby surely needs to keep this in mind. Quite insightfully, most of Oppenheimer's biographies explore his times and the philosophies of the age, and not just his own preeminence.

I am going to be a busy boy...


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