Oppenheimer, J. Robert - "Now I am Become Death"

On witnessing the first test of the atomic bomb, which he had helped to develop during his work with the Manhattan Project, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer later said:

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent.

I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

I suppose we all thought that one way or another.

Move the video forward - to 0:48 - to watch Professor Oppenheimer make this statement.

In the years following the first explosion of the atomic bomb, Oppenheimer's critics grew in number.  By the 29th of June, 1954, all but one member of the Atomic Energy Commission had voted to revoke his security clearance. 

Marvin L. Goldberger, a Los Alamos scientist and former director of The Institute for Advanced Studies, later commented on this action which publicly humiliated Oppenheimer:

The country [America] asked him to do something and he did it brilliantly, and they repaid him for the tremendous job he did by breaking him.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Feb 22, 2020

Media Credits

Oppenheimer video, courtesy National Science Digital Library.



To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Oppenheimer, J. Robert - "Now I am Become Death"" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 22, 2020.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips