1950

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The Bigger, The Better?

January 31, 1950. This is the date that President Harry Truman decided to ratchet up the nuclear arms race another notch. This next move in brinkmanship would entail the creation of "the Super", in response to the USSR conducting an atomic bomb test. This test took the world by surprise as even the most pessimistic physicist predicted it would be years before another nation could develop an atomic bomb. "The Super", better known as a hydrogen bomb, would be powered by the fusion of hydrogen atoms, specifically deuterium (a hydrogen isotope containing a proton and a neutron in it's nucleus, while regular hydrogen only has a proton in it's nucleus[1]), which is the same reaction that powers the sun itself. J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the key physicists behind developing the atomic bomb, argued that the US shouldn't create "the Super", because it's massive radius of destruction would be too large to be ethically used against a military target, and that at the point where world powers are using nuclear weapons against each other, it didn't matter hydrogen bomb or nuclear bomb, the destruction has reached a point where entire cities are being destroyed. He also argued that by using smaller atomic bombs, one could bomb a city multiple times and be able to use that for bargaining, rather than simply wipe the entire city off the face of the earth with one bomb. Truman decided to proceed with the creation of "the Super" anyways, because there would be no way for him to justify to the American people why the US hadn't developed a hydrogen bomb while the USSR had.[2] [3] [4]

My Take by Southpaw Ben
Oppenheimer's argument of using multiple nukes against a single city instead of simply wiping it off the map makes sense, in a twisted way that only makes sense through the lens of the Cold War and the extraordinary threat of the Communist menace. As a current college student, I don't remember the times when school kids would have duck and cover drills in school because of the threat of nuclear war, and as a result look back at this time differently then older generations do. Looking back for me, these drills seem funny and messed up, as I have seen how it all turned out. This also makes understanding this time harder for me, as I didn't experience this constant existential threat. Looking back, I see the US and the USSR acting like a pair of teenage guys, posing and trying to impress everyone around them that they were the "badder boy", but both knew and understood that everyone would lose if they decided to exchange blows and try to settle it that way.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1950, Wikipedia.

Notable Births

(All listed people were alive as of 2/10/2017)

Politicians...
  • Louis Freeh, fifth FBI Director.[5]
  • Rick Perry, 47th Governor of Texas.[6]
  • Samuel Alito, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.[7]
  • Jill Stein, Green Party Nominee for President in 2012 and 2016.[8]
  • Chuck Schumer, Democratic US Senator for New York.[9]
Entertainers...
  • William James "Bill" Murray, Comedian and Actor known for appearing in Caddyshack and Groundhog's Day, among other movies.[10]
  • Stevland Hardaway Judkins, better known as Stevie Wonder, is blind musician, known for songs, such as Sir Duke, Superstition, and I Just Called to Say I Love You.[11]
  • James Douglas Muir "Jay" Leno, a stand up comedian known for his stand up comedy, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Jay Leno show.[12]
  • Phillip Calvin McGraw, better known as Dr. Phil, has hosted Dr. Phil since 2002, and first became well known from an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Texas.[13]
Scientists...
  • Sir Alec Jeffreys, a British geneticist who developed techniques for DNA fingerprinting and DNA profiling commonly used in forensic science today.[14]
  • Russell Alan Hulse, an American physicist who got a Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery, along with Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr. "for the discovery of a new type of pulsar, a discovery that has opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation."[15][16]
  • Robert B Laughlin, shared a Nobel Prize in Physics with Horst L. Störmer and Daniel C. Tsui "for their discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations".[17][18]

See Also

References

  1. Deuterium. Retrieved on 7 February 2017.
  2. Hardcore History 59 -(Blitz) The Destroyer of Worlds (Tuesday 24 January 2017). Retrieved on 7 February 2017.
  3. Race for the Hydrogen Bomb. Retrieved on 7 February 2017.
  4. Thermonuclear weapon. Retrieved on 7 February 2017.
  5. [1]
  6. [2]
  7. [3]
  8. [4]
  9. [5]
  10. [6]
  11. [7]
  12. [8]
  13. [9]
  14. [10]
  15. [11]
  16. [12]
  17. [13]
  18. [14]

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