Devon Island Expedition

Devon Island Expedition
This blog features educational updates on my Devon Island Expedition of July 14-20, 2007. Other sites: spaceref.com/blogs/earthclassroom, www.marsonearth.org

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Trinity Test Site


I had the opportunity to visit the Trinity Test Site today, courtesy of General Regan, of the White Sands Missile Range. It was almost sixty five years ago, when the United States tested the world's first atomic bomb.

It made me think of what that time must have been like, as I was standing there at ground zero. The dedicated teams working fiercely to develop this weapon, which was intellectually interesting, and critical to the United States war effort. It undeniably shortened the war, and saved many lives, on both sides.

However, what went through the minds of the people doing it? Oppenheimer had somewhat of a crisis of conscience. Who wouldn't? At least to some degree? Even Edward Teller must have wondered sometimes, about what he had helped to develop. Yet, it would be naive to believe that had the United States not developed nuclear weapons, that no other country would have. The Germans were working on atomic weapons research during the last days of the war. Does anyone doubt that Hitler, with his V2 rockets to deliver these weapons, would not have used them?

It is not only about war and weapons. What advances came out of this time of crisis and conflict? It is interesting to consider all of this.

Leroy Chiao

6 comments:

Amnon I. Govrin said...

Atomic bombs were a double edge sword still affecting policies today. They showed us how much energy can be produced, which could also be used for good (nuclear power, nuclear space propulsion), but at the same time, combined with accidents like Chernobyl they produced fear that is still preventing pursuit of peaceful uses nuclear energy based on fear.
I hope to see human space propulsion other than chemical rockets in my lifetime.

Michael Turner said...

If nuclear weapons threatened the end of the world, maybe the ability to reach space saved the world?

With only ordinary aircraft for reconnaissance and strategic arms delivery (vulnerable to anti-aircraft defenses), wars might have escalated to nuclear attacks, which might have escalated to Armageddon.

The ability to deliver nuclear warheads across the planet, without real hope of interception, made the MAD doctrine possible, which made the use of nuclear weapons virtually unthinkable. Spy satellites for strategic arms control verification fostered trust (again, it was not possible to intercept these easily, without polluting the space environment for one's own satellites).

To the extent that future large-scale wars depend on hoodwinked national populations, access to space might still go on saving the human race from the threat of nuclear extinction. Terrestrial communications links can always be filtered, channeled, throttled and compromised. Geosynchronous satellites offer truly global reach.

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