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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder

All That I Wanted To Know

"I am become death, destroyer of worlds."
-- J. Robert Oppenheimer, on the occasion of the Trinity Test,
the first Atomic Bomb detonation in history.

Michael David Crawford, Baritone,
mdcrawford@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In October 1984 a friend suggested that the reason I was so very unhappy was that I was a Caltech student. "You should take a year off to do some writing." I thought that was a great idea, but because the deadline to withdraw with the return of my fees had already passed, I went to the Registrar's office to change my major from Physics to Literature.

On the way back to Ricketts House from the Registrar I happened upon Manhattan Project Physicist Richard Feynman walking with my friend Tsutomu Shimomura. "I've learned all the Physics I wanted to know. I just changed my major to Literature."

Dr. Feynman smiled broadly then quite earnestly said "I'm very happy for you!" For many years I wondered why - shouldn't he have felt insulted that I felt Lit was better than Physics? No. Here's why:

Most was known. . . . Other peoples are not being hindered in the development of the bomb by any secrets we are keeping. They might be helped a little by our mentioning which of two processes is found to be more efficient, & by telling them what size parts to plan for – but soon they will be able to do to Columbus, Ohio, and hundreds of cities like it what we did to Hiroshima.

And we scientists are clever – too clever – are you not satisfied? Is four square miles in one bomb not enough? Men are still thinking. Just tell us how big you want it!" *

And in fact North Korea was not hindered by our secrets, nor were China, Israel, Pakistan nor India. Today's hydrogen bombs are easily one thousand times as powerful as the bombs that instantly killed one hundred thousand men, women and children in Hiroshima and in Nagasaki and doomed just as many more to die slowly and painfully of cancer.

I always knew Dr. Feynman to be a very warm and kind-hearted man. There is no doubt in my mind that for the rest of his life after the War In The Pacific ended he wished every single day that the Manhattan Project had somehow found a way to keep the Genii in his bottle.

* Gleick, James, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, p. 204

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