Sunday, August 17, 2008

This ridiculous world we live in...

During World War II, the Manhattan Project mobilized much of Berkeley's physics research in the effort to produce the first atomic bomb. Though Oppenheimer had asked Bohm to work with him at Los Alamos, the top-secret laboratory established in 1942 to design the bomb, the head of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Groves, would not approve Bohm's security clearance, after tip-offs about his politics (Bohm's friend, Joseph Weinberg, had also come under suspicion for espionage).

Bohm remained in Berkeley, teaching physics, until he completed his Ph.D. in 1943, under an unusually ironic circumstance. According to Peat (see reference below, p.64), "the scattering calculations (of collisions of protons and deuterons) that he had completed proved useful to the Manhattan Project and were immediately classified. Without security clearance, Bohm was denied access to his own work; not only would he be barred from defending his thesis, he was not even allowed to write his own thesis in the first place!" To satisfy the university, Oppenheimer certified that Bohm had successfully completed the research. (Wikipedia)

More on Bohm's ideas and their implications later this week (bli neder)...


Blogger -suitepotato- said...

During the cold war 80s, the USSR declassified a huge amount of their magnetic confinement fusion research and decided to show off and brag to the west. One of the things they did was send some scientists to America to show off their calculations and give talks on the subject.

What did we do? We sent federal agents into the middle of one of these presentations and literally threw a blanket over a roll-away chalkboard on which they'd written equations and we classified the Soviets' own research which they'd declassified. If an American wanted to look at it, they could get it from the Soviets in Russia, but not those they sent to America.

Technically, an American would be guilty of a felony for looking at in America a piece of information entirely created and the intellectual property of the USSR, and which that originator made freely available to anyone who cared to read it.

It's not for nothing military intelligence is top of the list for well known oxymorons.

August 17, 2008 5:08 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Interesting story, SP. I have not heard of this - but I can totally see this happening.

August 18, 2008 7:03 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

That's kind of an awesome story. My grandfather worked on the Manhattan Project, so I'm actually kind of curious about it as a topic....

August 18, 2008 9:25 AM  

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