July 2011

Trinity Day: Reflections of Enrico Fermi’s Granddaughter…

It would be interesting to know what the creators (the major brains behind it: Fermi, Oppenheimer, Einstein, Bethe, …)  of the atomic bomb would have thought about the consequences of their brain child. Unfortunately none of them is alive and recent developments in Japan and not so recent (25 years ago) in Chernobyl, continue to feed to the hysteria surrounded by the exploration of the atom. However,we have an opportunity to look at it through the eyes of the descendents of Enrico Fermi. Olivia Fermi, his granddaughter created a very interesting blog I would like to refer you to. The history of the atomic bomb has interested Oliva for a long time and she created a blog to reflect her Neutron Trail project: I recommend you to check it out.

I would like to finish with a quote from Olivia’s blog. I could not have expressed as well as Olivia, but I share her thoughts and feelings about it. Despite the ignorance of the big part of our population about science, science, history  and society cannot be examined separately – we are one. Then it was atomic bomb, today it is atomic energy, genetically modified products, stem cell research and many other areas where we consume the results of scientific research while trying to get more for less (see my earlier post on the Exponential Growth). Can we afford not to care about what is happening around us?

An excerpt from Olivia’s blog (emphasis is mine):

“What I learned about since my visit to Trinity is the larger context within which the Trinity test and subsequent atomic bombings occurred. New information spurs fresh insight. It’s easy to miss the big picture for many reasons. Time goes by and immediate memory is lost. Some parts of the story come to represent the whole. Summaries and simplifications skew our understanding of history. Then too, our frames of reference shift. Who is the enemy? The nations who were enemies are no longer. Is the enemy us?”

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