Monday, August 02, 2010

Remembering Dr. Oppenheimer

Very few have, perhaps, endured the dichotomies of life as has J. Robert Oppenheimer, going from an absolutely iconic state to tragic infamy, in a succession of events that can at best be described as unfortunate and fateful!

Presently reading the biography of who is best known as the father of the American atom bomb, I'm given an opportunity to understand the mind of Dr. Oppenheimer, famously known for its complexities, as baffling as mathematical convolutions or the laws governing thermodynamics in physics! But the remarkably articulate and factual work of Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, free from any form of prejudice, or opinionated distortions, usually adopted by many a narrator, is a true classic, having arrived upon after a great deal of painstaking research compiled with immense meticulousness and detail for the reader to assimilate.

Titled American Prometheus - The triumph and tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, this booker prize winning work not only details, in outstanding simplicity, the life and times of Dr. Oppenheimer but also introduces the reader to a socio-political mindset, prevalent during what was perhaps the beginning of divisions in the world, as blocs, in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, created purely on an ideological basis - a state of alignment that would last for decades, culminating into the Cold War.

Reading this book is quite like living a situation that is not very uncommon in today's world of speed success that dictates entities to plot against one another in a feverish attempt to 'climb the ladder,' of which, here, the protagonist falls victim to! I can safely say that this book is more than just an account of a person and his actions, or inactions as many historians would like to remark! To me, it is nothing short of an almanac of history, one that unmistakably outlines very many facts about how history was shaped and thereafter written and hence recognizable in the form that we know today!


It was on this day in 1932 that the American physicist Carl David Anderson announced the discovery of the Positron, a fact earlier theorized by Dr. Oppenheimer in his paper titled "On the theory of electrons and protons."

Also on this day in 1939, scientists Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd wrote to then US President Franklin Roosevelt, urging him to begin the Manhattan Project to develop a nuclear weapon. Dr. Oppenheimer would later serve as scientific director of the project.

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