The Destroyer of Worlds

Among scores of things I find on the web I particularly enjoy podcasts. Thanks to the smartphone, I can listen to them whenever I am on “auto-pilot” mode — house cleaning, driving, walking, etc.

Here’s one podcast that I have been thrusting on people around me. It’s Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. To give you a sense of what Dan’s podcasts are like, listen to episode #59 — The Destroyer of Worlds.

Image credit: Jack W. Aeby, July 16, 1945, Civilian worker at Los Alamos laboratory

Just reading the title of the episode I guessed what it was about and where the title came from. The first nuclear fission bomb was developed by a team based in Los Alamos, New Mexico which was headed by the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer later recalled that on watching the awe-inspring spectacle of the detonation of the bomb, he was reminded of that instance in the Bhagavat Gita when Vishnu (in his incarnation as Krishna) reveals his true form to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, and declare, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

July 16th, 1945 was the day that — in the words of Sting — “Oppenheimer’s deadly toy” came into existence. Time for an aside. As a pacifist I love all anti-war, anti-violence songs. Here are some of the lyrics of his song “Russians.”

How can I save my little boy
From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy
There is no monopoly of common sense
On either side of the political fence

That song is from 1985. Listen.  The background musical theme is from the Russian composer  Sergei Prokofiev.

OK, now that we’ve finished with that digression, here’s the main point of this piece. Listen to Dan Carlin. I enjoyed learning a bit of history. (I have another recommendation — a brilliant historian who written about Stalin — that I will share with you later.)

Enjoy and learn.

{Related post: Rationality in a World of Suicidally Deluded People.}

Author: Atanu Dey


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