Politics Magazine

Fine Man

Posted on the 29 November 2011 by Erictheblue

I reviewed James Gleick's biography of the physicist Richard Feynman here.  He (Feynman) is the subject of a television biography, "No Ordinary Genius," which is available online--I found it at 3 Quarks Daily.  Takes about ninety minutes.  There is a lot to like, even if you are not in the cult, but I was struck by Feynman's self-criticism for having participated in the development of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos.  He had thought it was vital to get it before the Germans did, but then Germany was defeated, and he was too busy to notice that his reason for participating was gone.  In his imagination, he juxtaposed the drunk, celebrating scientists with the suffering Japanese.  Everyone talks about Truman and "the decision to drop" but I think it was more like bureaucratic momentum arising from the same force that worked on Feynman.  It was a train you couldn't get off.

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