Nuclear History and Bureaucratic Chivvying

The wonderful What If blog by Randall Munroe put me back onto a blog that I’d found last year called Nuclear Secrecy. I’d originally been introduced to this blog through the web application NUKEMAP, whereby you can choose a location and then blow it up with the nuclear weapon of your choice. The map shows the circles of destruction based on initial fireball, blast effects, radiation exposure, and more. It’s a lot of “fun”, but it’s not what this post is about.

If you follow the links in the What If blog post, it takes you to a series of press releases that were prepared prior to the original testing of the atomic bomb in Alamagordo, NM in 1945. As they weren’t certain what would happen when they pressed the BOOM button on the new device, the press releases covered the gamut from “accidental explosion” to “widespread devastation”. If you click into the scanned PDF of the releases, you’ll find a memo attached that details why more information than is shown in the releases should not be provided to the public.  There are eleven reasons, but my favorite is number nine.

9. As soon as secrecy is lifted, the project will be subject to harassing investigation, official inquiries, time-consuming visitors, newspaper requests for stories and photographs, scientific curiosity and all the miscellany of crack-pots, columnist, commentators, political aspirants, would-be authors and world-savers—all of which will set the project back on its heels with the result that the probability of successfully meeting anticipated dates would be decidedly lessened.1

Tell me that you can’t identify with the people writing and approving this memo. I certainly can. See any of my posts about Ashford Dunwoody.

  1. This paragraph would be an excellent case study surrounding the Oxford Comma. []
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