Monday, April 11, 2005

THE FIRE UNLEASHED

From Anonymous:

Doug, I realize the blog is to be used for discussions about LANL's future, but here is an article about its past that many might find interesting.

Regards,

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THE FIRE UNLEASHED
Oppenheimer always knew he would pay for his discovery of the atomic bomb

Reviewed by Elizabeth Svoboda

Sunday, April 10, 2005

American Prometheus

The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

By Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin

KNOPF; 721 Pages; $35


In the summer of 1979, historian Martin Sherwin paid homage to the scholarly doctrine of sitzfleisch (sitting flesh) by saddling up and riding into the craggy peaks framing ranch Perro Caliente, N.M. Sherwin's quest -- stalking the ghost of Robert Oppenheimer, the fallen-from-grace atomic scientist who had once traversed these same mountains on horseback -- would take him and co-biographer Kai Bird on a bumpier ride than they expected, one spanning decades as well as distances. The fruit of this journey was "American Prometheus," a portrait nuanced and exacting enough to make the authors' quarter-century chase worthwhile.

[...]

Full Story



Comments:
Oppenheimer was screwed by a goup of bureaucrats (with the assistence of Teller) who were not worthly to hold his coat in a fair fight. Some of the best and brightest we have here today were treated the same way by the petty squirrels in the nut-house on the fourth floor.
 
So what's your point? Some genius got screwed over by petty dimwits?

Obviously the best and brightest keep coming back for more. Furthermore, they will continue to do so. These are scientists and engineers, they can't help themselves.

Your apparent disgust didn't stop you from coming here. Unclear if you are leaving or not over the current situation.
 
You have a point. Like the prizefighter who keeps climbing into the ring, we have tolerated much abuse. But those days are over, the bell of history has donged. This time when we take to take ring it will be as victors not for ourselves alone but for our progeny, for our rights, and for the security of our civilization. We will see change in this institution because we will demand it and the change will brighten our world. Some of us will see that change here and stand tall and proud and others will see in elsewhere. We came here to serve our Nation and if we leave it will be to serve our Nation. We are the champions my friend and champions we will always be.
 
Is it going to play out like Rocky...or Requiem for a Heavyweight?
 
My money is on Rocky (Marciano that is). Many times bloodied but Rocky was always standing a victor when the bout ended. Rocky was once described as "standing out like a rose in a garbage dump." That's us!
 
Oppenheimer would be turning in his grave if he could see what Los Alamos has become over the last 60 years. 6:38 said it just right, only that it goes beyond the petty bureaucrats on the 4th floor, all the way down to a number of division managers and their deputies who are unqualified to manage and have no scientific credentials in the real world.
 
That's like saying the Founding Fathers of the US would be turning in their graves if they saw what the US government had turned into. Why would anyone expect otherwise?

I would argue both were set up at critical times with a pivotal mission and a hypersupply of true talent. As the initial urgency faded and the mission morphed over time, each has turned into a bureaucratic "mediocracy". I would expect a similar path for any entity set up and played out under comparable conditions.
 
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