Mar 3, 2009

Pandora's Keepers - Brian VanDeMark

Need to get these notes down while I think of them.
  • Fission Atomic Weapon = horrific destruction
  • Fusion Superbomb = weapon of genocide and unlimited destruction.
  • Nuclear (A) and thermonuclear (H) difference.
Size described:
  • Hiroshima Atom Bomb = 10,000 lb.s of TNT
  • Superbomb Thermonuclear = 10,000,000 lbs. of TNT
  • 1954 Thermonuclear Bomb = 15,000,000 lbs. of TNT
  • 1960 Russian Thermonuclear Bomb = 60,000,000 lbs. of TNT

Atomic Bomb = result of Oppenheimer promotion and management.

Thermonuclear Bomb = result of Teller promotion.


  • subject of vicious assault on his integrity
  • led by Lewis Strauss
  • pushed by Teller

Against Oppenheimer:

  • Strauss / Borden / Teller / Lawrence / Griggs / Wilson / Robb (Lawyer)

Supported Oppenheimer:

  • Rabi / Fermi / Bethe / Szilard / Compton / Lilienthal / Kennan / McCloy
  • Pike / Bush / Conant / DuBridge / Von Neuman

Pandora's Keepers re-tells the history of both the designers and the design of the original atom (A) bomb and the super (H) bomb. The book is well put together, easily read, and eminently understandable for a non-scientist reader.

The Author describes the personalities directly involved. He zeroes in on the nine main nuclear physicists - each with a powerful and unique personality. The development of the atom bomb was done with great urgency by these men who fitted together awkwardly. Within the group were; jealousy, envy, hatred, egos - and different levels of brilliance. These conflicting elements had to be pushed aside to get the job done, and this was accomplished largely by the original leader, Robert Oppenheimer.

The hint of fission led to the pioneering development work that was followed by the Atom bomb. The physicists working on it knew they were dangerously manipulating Mother Nature and they did not know what might happen should someone order that one of these new bombs be exploded. The decision turned out not to be theirs to make.

The nation's military believed it's use would shorten the war. Our political leaders agreed and ordered the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The unleashed destructive power and it's inhumanly horrible consequences that forever changed the world.


After the resultant damage potential was realized in fact, the men that designed and built these new weapons each reacted in his own private way.

  • A few refused to further develop nuclear weapons altogether.
  • Some of them believed they had been instrumental in the early close of the war.
  • And many felt they had given birth to a weapon whose development promised the END OF THE WORLD.