Atomic Fragments: A Daughter's Questions (Google eBook)

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University of California Press, May 30, 2000 - 303 pages
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More than most of us, Mary Palevsky needed to come to terms with the moral complexities of the atomic bomb: Her parents worked on its development during World War II and were profoundly changed by that experience. After they died, unanswered questions sent their daughter on a search for understanding. This compelling, sometimes heart-wrenching chronicle is the story of that quest. It takes her, and us, on a journey into the minds, memories, and emotions of the bomb builders. Scientists Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, Joseph Rotblat, Herbert York, Philip Morrison, and Robert Wilson, and philosopher David Hawkins responded to Palevsky's personal approach in a way that dramatically expands their previously published statements. Her skill and passion as an interlocutor prompt these men to recall their lives vividly and to reexamine their own decisions, debating within themselves the complex issues raised by the bomb. The author herself, seeking to comprehend the widely differing ways in which individual scientists made choices about the bomb and made sense of their work, deeply reconsiders those questions of commitment and conscience her parents faced. In personal vignettes that complement the interviews, she captures other remembrances of the bomb through commemorative events and chance encounters with people who were "there." Her concluding chapter reframes the crucial moral questions in terms that show the questions themselves to be the abiding legacy we all share. This beautifully written book bridges generations to make its readers participants in the ongoing dialogue about science and philosophy, war and peace.
  

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Atomic fragments: a daughter's questions

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Palevsky's parents worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, developing the atomic bomb, and she grew up with their ambivalence toward their weapons work. After their deaths, she began to explore ... Read full review

Contents

Broken Vessel
1
Hans A Bethe Tough Dove
19
A Thousand Cranes
39
Edward Teller High Priest of Physics
41
Martyrs to History?
69
Philip Morrison Witness to Atomic History
73
Pacific Memories I
92
David Hawkins Chronicler of Los Alamos
98
Outsider History
214
Running to Ground Zero
217
Mosaic
223
The Bohr Phenomenon
227
Being God or Seeing God?
234
An Atomic Scientists Appeal
238
Life Understood Backward
241
Farewell
245

Pacific Memories II
121
Robert R Wilson the Psyche of a Physicist
125
Professor Bethe at Home in His Office
151
Joseph Rotblat Pugwash Pioneer
160
The Old Country
186
Herbert F York Inside History
188
Notes
249
Selected Bibliography
261
Sources of Illustrations
275
Index
277
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Mary Palevsky directs the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project at UNLV.

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