Thursday, June 18, 2009

Overheard in New Mexico

Well that hardly looks dangerous at all

Lunchtime at the Los Alamos cafeteria, July 23rd, 1945; one week after the Trinity test.

J. Robert Oppenheimer: Hey, listen. Remember last week, at the test, when I yelled out “holey shmoley!” during the explosion?

Richard Feynman: Yeah, yeah. Me and a few of the guys been saying how that was a weird thing to just yell out.

Oppenheimer: Right. Well, I was thinking. Maybe, from here on out, if anyone asks you what I said, you say it was, “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.”

Feynman: What’s that?

Oppenheimer: Well, I mean, I’m just thinking how maybe “holey shmoley” doesn’t do the, uh, event justice. I mean, you know, world’s first nuclear explosion and all. Maybe if posterity were to record something a bit more… memorable, say, something from an ancient Sanskrit text, that would work best for all involved.

Feynman: Yeah, sure thing.

Oppenheimer: So, “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds” it is, right?

Feynman: Whatever you say, Bob.


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