[identity profile] derevko-child.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] oliviawilliams
Olivia Williams on brainiacs and nuclear weapons
By Olivia Williams
12:15PM BST 29 Apr 2014


In her monthly column, Olivia Williams, considers short-lived omnipotence and the destructive power of technology



I have undertaken a little light research into my present job. As I am playing the wife of a physicist busy inventing the first atomic weapon in a US television series shooting in New Mexico, the producers let me off the “Nuclear Physics for Beginners” course the others went on while I was still negotiating my deal from a ladies’ loo in Kilburn. The wives were kept notoriously ignorant of their husbands’ activities but both my character and I can’t bear being kept in the dark, so, on a day they were filming in the labs, I took myself off up to Los Alamos to have a look around. My prejudice is strongly against both nuclear weaponry and nuclear energy, and I embarked on the journey with a certain doubtful cynicism regarding the crocodile tears some of the scientists seemed to shed over the consequences of their invention on a secret military base 70 years ago.

Driving up from the flat scrubland, ascending through red scarred rock to the city spread on the top of a mesa, you do feel elevated, both literally and metaphorically; as if you are on a higher plane of existence where cerebral endeavour can have no earthly consequences. It is like discovering a world on top of a cloud, and what with the thin air and the heady atmosphere of innovation and the sense of power you get from causing such a vast explosion as the one masterminded by Oppenheimer at the Trinity site, it is possible to see how they imagined themselves omnipotent. The experience left me with the impression that the scientists felt they were operating on a different plane of existence from the rest of the world – a closed community of brainiacs who had a very specific goal to work towards with none of the touchstones of morality or ethics in their peripheral vision. But as soon as they invented the technology, they lost control of it, and their sense of omnipotence was short-lived.

It is sobering to think that on a neighbouring mesa, across a canyon, connected by a thin white bridge, is the modern research lab maintaining the US’s nuclear weapons. Unfortunately it is only with hindsight that Oppenheimer realised he had become the destroyer of worlds. His subsequent attempts to curb nuclear proliferation and innovation made sure his security status was revoked and his questions deemed un-American.

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Date: 2014-04-30 09:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oonaseckar.livejournal.com
I wonder what specific kind of scandalous shady history a botanist would have. (Risque cabaret act involving rare species?)

Also wonder if she's mentally associating/comparing the scientist roles - amoral, oblivious of ethical implications - with Dollhouse's Topher and is playing off that. A little mention would be nice. *yearns*

Date: 2014-04-30 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darling-ashes.livejournal.com
This was a really interesting article (all of her articles are interesting and I love them but I really enjoyed this one.)

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