photo & text by nacrowe
in TRINITY: A GRAPHIC HISTORY OF THE FIRST ATOMIC BOMB (HILL AND WANG, 2012) author JONATHAN FETTER-VORM gets at the MORAL QUANDARY that was the MANHATTAN PROJECT and the creation of the ATOMIC BOMB during WORLD WAR II. initially viewed as a purely SPECULATIVE and PREVENTATIVE MEASURE that would help end the war with GERMANY, its creation instead sparked a new age of global PARANOIA and the threat of global MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION.
at the center of the narrative is theoretical physicist and BERKELEY professor J. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER who, along with GENERAL LESLIE GROVES (who previously oversaw the construction of THE PENTAGON) gathers a team and spearheads this national project. part of what FETTER-VORM does exceedingly well in this graphic novel is literally illustrate the SCIENTIFIC THEORY and TECHNICAL WIZARDRY that came with solving COMPLEX PROBLEMS with regard to controlling this incredible NUCLEAR ENERGY. it really cannot be understated how much INNOVATION and INGENUITY was involved in the conception and construction of the ATOMIC BOMB.
whats hard to stomach is how little it seemed that these scientists considered the MORAL IMPLICATIONS of their work, so caught up in the PATRIOTIC FERVOR and EXISTENTIAL state of affairs that WORLD WAR II presented. even after its completion on a panel meant to analyze the POLITICAL RAMIFICATIONS of their work, these scientists obfuscated and essentially passed the buck to their enablers in the political sphere.
i understand that science, much like the nature of reality, is inherently neutral and that all DISCOVERIES, INNOVATIONS and APPLICATIONS of APPLIED TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE are susceptible to the whims of people. people who are innately FALLIBLE and prone to OUTSIDE PRESSURES and INTERNAL NEUROTICISM. but when you are messing with NUCLEAR FISSION and the ELEMENTAL DESTRUCTIVE FORCES OF THE UNIVERSE, how could they be so NAIVE?
its an interesting dilemma that is expertly outlined by FETTER-VORM. and is beyond timely given the COMPLICATED GLOBAL POLITICS at play currently between THE WEST, RUSSIA and CHINA. that said, TRINITY: A GRAPHIC HISTORY OF THE FIRST ATOMIC BOMB is an incredible MEDITATION on the line between TECHNOLOGY, SECURITY and RESPONSIBILITY and is most definitely worth checking out.