General Interest

OPPENHEIMER

A LETTER TO SCIENCE MAGAZINE IN RESPONSE TO AN ARTICLE BY ADRIAN CHO IN THE 21 JULY 2023 ISSUE

To the Editor,

In his article about Oppenheimer Adrian Cho interviewed David Cassidy about Oppenheimer and in his final question stated that “Oppenheimer lost his security clearance in part because he opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb”.  This is incorrect and probably comes from the transcript of In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer, published by the Atomic Energy Commission, of the hearings that led to Oppenheimer’s clearance being revoked. 

K. D. Nichols, then General Manager of the Atomic Energy Commission surely new that Oppenheimer never opposed the hydrogen bomb, only Teller’s Super.  He did so because he thought that the Super would divert valuable resources away from fission weapons development.  After a meeting of the GAC held at Princeton during June of 1951, Oppenheimer changed his mind and enthusiastically supported Teller’s new “technically so sweet” approach.  This was when he was first exposed to the Teller-Ulam idea for the hydrogen bomb. 

It was David Rosenberg, who is now one of the country’s foremost historians of the nuclear age, had succeeded in obtaining a declassified copy of the AEC Thermonuclear Weapons Program Chronology, which gave a clear description of the Super.  It was nothing like the description of the hydrogen bomb.  I subsequently learned from I. I. Rabi that there had been closed secret sessions during the Oppenheimer hearings where Oppenheimer could well have defended himself against Nichols’ charge by drawing the necessary distinction between the classical Super and the hydrogen bomb.  I have no idea to this day whether he did so or not.

USA Today Magazine Articles 2001-2023

This book gathers together the articles I published in USA Today Magazine. They cover a large variety of topics and the book contains a commentary, sometimes giving history and technical details that could not be included at the time.

https://www.lulu.com/shop/gerald-marsh/usa-today-magazine-articles-2001-2023/paperback/product-em22p8.html

CROSSING THE RED LINE: THE NUCLEAR OPTION

This book addresses the incentives to develop nuclear weapons, what it takes to do so, and some of the technical aspects of nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It uses the North Korean program as an example.  It also addresses the associated policy issues.

                              

To read the front matter through Chapter 1, click on the link below.

https://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Red-Line-Nuclear-Option/dp/9813276827?keywords=gerald+e+marsh&qid=1540590802&sr=8-2&ref=sr_1_2

The Immense Journey: From the Birth of the Universe to the Rise of Intelligence

This book is an attempt to show the majesty of the immense journey from the coming into being of the universe to the emergence and evolution of life. While it begins with the birth of the universe and the subsequent formation of the matter making up the stars and planets, it is the four and a half billion years since the formation of our sun and its planets that are the main focus of the book.

Part I covers the coming into existence of the universe; Part II the beginning of life on the early Earth; Part III the emergence of consciousness and intelligence; and Part IV, the immense journey of the universe beyond Earth. Part V addresses the problems raised by the emergence of higher-order consciousness in human beings as captured by the phrase “the human condition”.

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