Thursday, April 21, 2016

Nuclear Bomb

When we learned about the backdrop of Hinduism behind Midnight's Children, it brought up a vague memory for me. I remembered that a nuclear scientist in the Manhattan Project once quoted "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds," a line from some ancient Hindu scripture, when he was asked how he felt about the Trinity project (the first nuclear weapon detonation test in the world) years after the experiment.

So I looked it up, and the scientist happened to be J. Robert Oppenheimer, who said in a TV interview:
We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another. 
Besides the brilliant insight into the development of nuclear weapons, I was surprised to find out that the quote was from the story in the Bhagavad Gita that we learned about in Humanities and thought it was cool that I know exactly what he was talking about.

1 comment:

Antonio Imbornone said...

On the subject of nuclear bombs, I'd like to bring up a book regarding the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Like Midnight's Children, the novel tied the catastrophic events to its characters lives. Some where more significant than others, but nevertheless it gave personal descriptions of the lives of each of its characters and what events transpired at the same time the bomb dropped. Just thought I'd share since we're talking about nuclear bombs.