Thursday, March 1, 2012
ATOMIC - March 8, 2012
It is now 67 years since the Manhattan Project exploded the first atom bombs and put Us all into the atomic age, and about a year since an earthquake and tsunami threatened to reduce the main island of Japan to the condition around Chernobil, thus destroying the lives of millions of the most creative and productive people in the world. We still do not know how much human suffering it will cost in the ensuing century, but the fear of exactly such an accident has hung over all of us for all that time. In the meantime, the same fear has engendered a terror over the consequences of scientific research, especially that of Physics, in antagonism with the promise that the Atom could provide us with limitless power, both electrical and military, far into the future. This threat to progress has engendered a pooh-poohing of the threat by many of those whose lives are tied to the possibility of diminishing some of the ills of humankind through the gathering of the fruits of knowledge. Indeed, there seems to be an opinion to be found among scientists that concern with the dangers of the Atom exists mainly among cowards, who take too much caution from the less-than-perfect record that we have observed in the first 2/3 of a century of the Atomic Age, and this does not even count the total of those stumbles that have been successfully swept out of public knowledge by the public relations people of nations that would be deeply embarrassed if the less tolerable errors had been obvious. We are approaching the time when wind, wave and solar energy might free us of this atomic horror, but still tens of millions of people live under the threat of the Yankee power station in the immediate vicinity of New York City, and that has been labeled as the most dangerous one in the world.