What did I read about the terrible beauty of nuclear weapons?
June 20, 2013 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Sometime around the year 2000, I remember reading something on the Internet about nuclear weapons that was written in a very unique style. The first half focused on the beauty of the bomb components, describing in great detail how accurately they were manufactured, and the incredible precision of the sequence of events during the reaction. I seem to remember something about a perfectly smooth sphere. The second half abruptly switched to an equally detailed and pretty horrific description of the effects of this weapon on its targets. I don't know if this was a standalone essay or some kind of excerpt of a larger work. I remember reading it as a chunk of plain, unstyled text. What was it?
posted by steveminutillo to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
That could easily be something written by Richard Rhodes.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:40 PM on June 20, 2013

I tend to agree. The first thing this reminded me of was the description of the Ivy Mike device (first thermonuclear test shot) in Rhodes' Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 1:47 PM on June 20, 2013

I don't know, but I sure am interested.

I think MisantropicPainforest might be on to something. From Amazon's description of Rhodes' book The Making of the Atomic Bomb: "If the first 270 pages of this book had been published separately, they would have made up a lively, insightful, beautifully written history of theoretical physics and the men and women who plumbed the mysteries of the atom. Along with the following 600 pages, they become a sweeping epic, filled with terror and pity, of the ultimate scientific quest: the development of the ultimate weapon."

Although, I'm assuming that what you're referring to is less than 870 pages.
posted by rensar at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2013

It's likely the Rhodes book...as previously recommended.

The only other thing that occurred to me is "Swords of Armegeddon," which I recommend to people interested in the cold war, but I doubt that was it because it wasn't widely distributed in the public arena, and I think the photos were more profound than the writing. Don't let the 1990s-era web design and the vanity press vibe put you off...it's an interesting source.
posted by answergrape at 2:59 PM on June 20, 2013

You might be interested in the Manhattan Project-inspired works by artist / sculptor Jim Sanborn.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 8:37 PM on June 20, 2013

Could it be from John McPhee?
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 9:30 PM on June 20, 2013

It wouldn't be tom clancy's "Three Shakes" would it?


Sorry for bad linkage. Mobil screwy today.
posted by umberto at 6:18 AM on June 21, 2013

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