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TitleE = mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation
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LanguageEnglish
File Size2.1 MB
Total Pages349
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Page 174

Notes from the Presidential “Interim Committee,”
June 1, 1945:

Mr. Byrnes recommended, and the Committee agreed,
that . . . the bomb should be used against Japan as
soon as possible; that it be used on a war plant
surrounded by workers’ homes; and that it
be used without prior warning.”

Part of Oppenheimer accepted that; part of him—
especially when away from Washington—was unsure.
But did it matter? He’d helped bring out these powers
but now was the least part of it. Oppenheimer’s supe-
rior, Leslie Groves, was General Groves. Los Alamos was
a project of the United States Army. The army built
weapons to use them.

The atomic bomb was going to be loaded onto that
airplane.

a d u l t h o o d

Page 175

8:16 A.M.—Over Japan

163

E=mc2
13

Whistling, spinning, the bomb (“an elongated trash can
with fins”) had taken forty-three seconds to fall from
the B-29 that released it. There were small holes around
its midpoint where wires had been tugged out of it as it
dropped away: this had started the clock switches of its
first arming system. More small holes had been drilled
farther back on its dark steel casing, in New Mexico, and
those took in samples of air as the free fall continued.
When it had tumbled to 7,000 feet above the ground, a
barometric switch was turned, priming the second arm-
ing system.

From the ground the B-29 was just visible as a silvery
outline, but the bomb—a bare ten feet long, two and a
half feet wide—would have been too small a speck to see.
Weak radio signals were being pumped down from the
bomb to the Shina Hospital directly below. Some of
those radio signals were absorbed in the hospital’s walls,
but most were bounced back skyward. Sticking out of
the bomb’s back, near the spinning fins, were a number
of whiplike thin radio antennae. Those collected the re-
turning radio signals, and used the time lag each took

Page 348

Tritium, 193
Truman, Harry, 161
Turin Shroud, 194
2 (symbol), viii
Typographical symbols,

23–25, 55

Uncertainty Principle, 120
Union Minière, 129
United States

army, 133, 162
atomic bomb program,

ix, 131, 133, 143–53,
157–58, 160–62

Universe, 69, 80, 176–77
E=mc2 in, ix, 173, 174–75,

184, 187
end of, 196, 202–3
energy in, 19
rational explanation of,

57–58
single force in, 20
views of, 80, 84

University of Berlin, 103
University of Chicago,

Uraniborg, observatory of,
39

Uranium, 77, 92, 117–18, 174,
190

in American bomb pro-
gram, 148–49, 164–65

in German atomic bomb
work, 124–25, 134,
141

guiding slowed neutrons
into, 105

machining, 129
shape for, 132

Uranium atoms, 141
in atomic bomb explo-

sion, 165, 183
breaking apart, 107–8,

126, 127–29, 166
Uranium bomb, 77
Uranium nucleus, 107–8,

109, 110, 174
exploding, 111, 128

Urey, Harold C., 126, 235,
149, 157, 158

U235, 149, 157, 158

V–2 missile, 152
Veblen, Thorstein, 85–

86
Velocity

multiplying mass by
square of, 68–69

squaring of, 67–68
Vemork, Norway, 136, 153,

154, 155, 156
Venus, 195
Versailles, 58, 61, 64, 66
“Virus House, The,” 124,

130, 138
Volcanoes, 191
Voltaire (François–Marie

Arouet), 55–57
and Emilie du Châtelet,

59–60, 61, 62, 65, 66, 67
on energy, 62, 63
supporting Newton’s

ideas, 57

Wandering clubs, 123
Water (H2O), 98, 126
Watteau, Jean Antoine, 61,

63

i n d e x

201

Page 349

Weapons Bureau
(Germany), 123, 124,
141

Weber, Herr, 48
Weber, Max, 79
Wehrmacht, 133, 135, 159
Weimar Republic, 120
Weizmann, Chaim, vii–viii
Western Europe, 21–22
Wigner, Eugene, 131–32

Wilson, Robert, 145
World

complete system of, 84
end of, ix, 197, 202–3

World War I, 96, 102, 120,
132, 208, 209, 210, 214

World War II, 192
World’s Fair (St. Louis), 79

X rays, 167

i n d e x

337

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