The Real Story of Oppenheimer | Hero or Villain?
“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. “Hello,
friends!16th July 1945, around 5.30 in the morning. In the desert of America’s
state New Mexico, a bomb explodes. But this is not a normal bomb explosion.
This was the first time a nuclear bomb was being evaluated.5,4,3,2,1!
This nuclear test was codenamed Trinity, and the project was
led by scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer was shocked to see this
bomb blast. He had expected the size of the explosion to be around 0.3 kilotons
of TNT. But in reality, this blast was 50 times more dangerous.15-20 kilotons
of TNT. The blast released so much heat that a steel tower evaporated. The
shockwave was felt from a distance of 160 km.
The mushroom cloud that erupted went up to 12 km in the sky.
Upon seeing all this, Oppenheimer was so shocked that he uttered a line from
the Bhagavad Gita. “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. “Now I am
become death, the destroyer of worlds. “You might be asking; how did
Oppenheimer know about Bhagavad Gita? We will talk about that later in the video.
Since Christopher Nolan made a new film.
So I thought this would be the right opportunity to make a
video on him. What was his story? How did he develop the nuclear bomb? Was
Oppenheimer a hero or a villain? And how did he feel when millions of people
lost their lives because of his creation? Let’s find out in today’s video.
Julius Robert Oppenheimer is known as the father of the atomic bomb.
He was the director of the Manhattan Project that created
the first nuclear weapons. Let’s start this story from his childhood. He was
born in 1904to a German Jewish family in New York City. And he was considered a
child genius since childhood.
He was studying high-level physics and chemistry at the age
of only 10.And he was very knowledgeable about mineralogy. About property of minerals.
He was so knowledgeable that at the age of 12he was invited to give a lecture
at New York’s Mineralogical Club. Later in 1922,when he went to Harvard to study,
he completed his 4-year degree in 3 years.
He was at the top of his class. He majored in chemistry and
he was knowledgeable about many subjects. Physics, philosophy, literature, and
even Eastern religion. But in Harvard, he realized that among all these subjects,
his real passion was physics. Later in 1927, at the age of 23,he did his PhD.
But there was a dark side hidden behind this genius.
His friends said that Oppenheimer had self-destructive tendencies.
He was a chain smoker and was suffering through depression. One day, he told
his brother, I need physics more than friends. He was focused only on his studies
and remained unaware of what was happening in the world around him. Until the
when Adolf Hitler rose in Germany. He gradually became more
politically aware. Because of Hitler’s tyranny, many German scientists were
fleeing from Germany to America. There were many big names on this list. Like
John von Neumann, who pioneered modern computers. Leo Szilard,
who will play an important role in our story. Hans Bethe, who discovered fusion
in stars. Edward Teller, who is called the father of the hydrogen bomb. And
Enrico Fermi, who will play another important role in our story. All these
scientists mainly were German-Jews and because Oppenheimer
himself came from a German-Jewish family, when he started
paying attention to the atrocities on Jews, his interest in politics started developing.
This is his quote from 1936.”I started to understand how deeply political
and economic events affect people’s lives. I felt the need
to participate in this community. “Influenced by the left-wing ideology went to
many political meetings. And donated money to many labour unions and striking
farm workers. In September 1939,Hitler invaded Poland, which was the beginning
of World War 2.
As I explained in my video on World War 2,America was not interested
in getting involved in this war. But still, America was preparing for the worst.
Actually, what happened was that month before the war started, in August 1939,Albert
Einstein and Leo Szilard wrote a letter to American President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In this letter, they warned the American President that Hitler is working
on nuclear weapons.
And that he may be successful in making this extremely powerful bomb. That’s
why America should be prepared. As soon as he read this letter, the American President
set up an advisory committee on uranium. Taking immediately action. A team of
scientists and military officials was formed. Their job was to research the
potential of uranium. Can uranium be made into a weapon? After the findings of
the American government started funding Enrico Fermi and Leo
Szilard. For researching how nuclear chain reactions work. And how to separate
the isotopes of uranium. The thing is that the naturally found uranium on earth
is the uranium-238 isotope.
Less than 1% of the uranium is a U-235 isotope. And only
this U-235 isotope, could be used to make the bomb. The first challenge for
these scientists was to find a way to make uranium-235using the uranium-238.But
the scientists working on this project were told not to tell Albert Einstein
Because the American government was afraid that Albert
Einstein’s ideology was very left-wing. It could have been a potential security
risk. As you know, Albert Einstein was one of those people who used to sleep
for 10 hours a night. He knew the importance of sleep and he used to take
strategic naps in the day. Compare this to today’s social media motivational gurus
who tell you that you should not waste time sleeping.
They tell fraud stories of how the successful people sleep
only for 5-6 hours a night. All lies. The truth is that regular and sufficient sleep
is very important for every human being. Apart from a few exceptions, every
human being needs to sleep for 7-9 hours to be at the top of their health.
Especially if you want to maximize your productivity and happiness. And if you
haven’t joined yet, I have given similar practical advice in my time management
course. Step-by-step techniques with which you can increase your efficiency by
that I use in my life as well. Thousands of people who have
taken this course have appreciated it a lot. Look at this feedback. People said
that they have seen a transformation in their life after taking this course. So
if you want to check it out, its link is in the description below. And for this
video, there is a special coupon code OP40You will get 40% off on this course.
For the first 400 people who buy the course are from the link below.
You can join it quickly. Now, let’s come back to the topic.
Oppenheimer was doing his independent research on nuclear fission with Edward
Teller and other scientists. December 1940.Apart from the Uranium-235 isotope,
another radioactive element was discovered which scientists believe could also
be used to make nuclear weapons.
The name of this element was Plutonium. On 11th October
1941American President sends a message to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
saying that both countries should collaborate for atomic development
.Not even 2 months later that on 7th December 1941,Japan
attacked Pearl Harbo Rand America officially entered World War 2.”A state
of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire. “American
President Roosevelt announced that America will become a part of the Allied powers
were fighting against Germany and Japan. If you want to know the whole story of
World War 2,I have made two videos on it.
Part 1 and part 2,and detailed everything from start to end.
If you haven’t seen it, I will put the link in the description you can watch
them after this video. But at this point in time, it becomes clear that the
scientific mission of developing nuclear weapons turned into a military
mission. America spent $2.2 billion this one project.
Taking inflation into account, it is equivalent to $24
billion today. Almost 2 trillion Indian rupees. The American military had an
engineering win the Army Corps of Engineers. It made ports and airfields for
the army. Its involvement was approved by President Roosevelt in June 1942.Now,
the office of the North Atlantic Division was in Manhattan,
New York City. And when they got the responsibility to make
nuclear weapons, they made their headquarters in the same building, on the 18th
floor. These headquarters were named Manhattan Engineer District and from this
point in time, the Manhattan Project officially started. The date was 13th
August 1942.Next month, on 17th September, Colonel Leslie Richard Groves was
appointed as the head of the project. And he made the decision
to appoint Oppenheimer as the leader of the design of the
atomic bomb. A secret location was decided to keep this project under cover.
Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This city is also called the Secret City because an
entire city was built here only for this project. Thousands of scientists,
researchers, and workers were moved
to this city and they
had only one task. Creating Uranium-235 from Uranium-238.I will not go into the
details of the science of nuclear fission because I explained it in the video
on Chernobyl. You can watch that video if you want to understand it in detail.
The point is that Uranium-238is not very fissionable.
It cannot undergo a chain reaction to make a bomb. It was
very important to extract Uranium-235.Only Uranium-235 can undergo a chain reaction
which is why it was required. The plan was to try out 4 different methods to
make U-235 from U-238.Gaseous diffusion, centrifuge, electromagnetic separation,
and liquid thermal diffusion. After testing these 4 different technologies,2
technologies proved to be successful to some extent.
Electromagnetic separation and gaseous diffusion. In
electromagnetic separation, a large magnet is used to separate U-235 from
U-238.In gaseous diffusion, Uranium-hexafluoride gas is passed through a porous
membrane in which the light molecules of U-235pass successfully. But since the
U-238 molecules are heavier and they get filtered out.
Apart from this, at a different location in Washington,
scientists were at work producing Plutonium as well. Plutonium is also produced
from Uranium 238.When an isotope of hydrogenase bombarded with Uranium 238then
plutonium is produced. Later it was found that plutonium is more radioactive
and more fissionable as compared to Uranium 235.
Apart from these two locations, they were looking for a third
location. For Project Y.A location where the actual work of designing and making
these bombs would take place. General Groves wanted a remote location for this.
So that the project could remain a secret. Oppenheimer knew
exactly such a location. It is a place where Oppenheimer spent his summers
happily. Surrounded by mountains and beautiful landscapes, the Pecos Valley in
New Mexico .After setting up all these locations, there was only one obvious
thing left to do.
To practically test out a chain reaction. Everything was
theoretical till now. So they needed proof on whet her the whole concept of the
atomic bomb was feasible or not.2nd December 1942.Scientist Enrico Fermi
conducted the first successful practical experiment. In a squash court of the
University of Chicago ,he ran a chain reaction, which helps light up a bulb.
“The clickety-clack of their instruments, proved they
had achieved the first human-made nuclear chain reaction. “By this point,
General Groves was impressed with Oppenheimer’s ability. He wanted to appoint
him as the director of Project Y. But some senior members of the military
doubted Oppenheimer. The same way that they doubted Albert Einstein. Many
friends of Oppenheimer, his wife, and in fact, his brother
,were all hard-core communists. He was influenced by the
left-wing ideology himself. America was afraid that this communist ideology
could go against their country. But despite these concerns, General Groves
personally supported Oppenheimer and said that the is project could not happen
And that he was essential for this project. And because of
this, on 20th July 1943,Oppenheimer was made the lead of this project. To make
an atom bomb, Oppenheimer’s expertise was required in the calculation of
critical mass. Critical mass is basically a minimum amount of mass of
Uranium-235 or Plutonium which is needed to have a chain reaction,
to sustain a chain reaction. The minimum amount of
radioactive elements that would be needed to carry out a chain reaction and a
bomb blast. It seems easy today, but there were many unknown factors at that
time. We hardly knew anything about the properties of Uranium-235.Plutonium-239
was actually discovered in 1940.And by the end of 1943,
only 2 milligrams of plutonium could be produced.That’s why
America was developing two atom bombs.The first bomb was based on
Uranium-235,named Little Boy.The mechanism of this bomb was basicallya gun-type
design.Two masses of Uranium-235 were taken,which were sub-critical.Less than
the critical value.And they
were combined rapidly with each other.With this combination,
the critical mass was reachedand a fission chain reaction followsresulting in
an explosion.The second bomb was the plutonium bombwhich was using
plutonium-239and its name was Fat Man.It was more difficult to design.Here, it
could not be designed as a gunbecause if the masses of two plutonium were
combined,it would react very quicklyand the fission reaction
would end before the
critical mass could be reached.”A Plutonium gun-bomb would melt, not
explode.”Here, scientists created a different design for the plutonium
bomb.The mass of plutonium was to be placed under high pressure and densityin a
spherical structure.A sub-critical mass of plutonium was placed inside a hollow
And outside the sphere, explosives were usedto create an
implosion in the mass of plutonium.When the explosives outside exploded,the
plutonium would be under high pressureand it would reach the critical mass.This
concept was called the implosion method.
Scientists already knew about the gun method,but this was
the first time that the implosion method was theoretically
mentioned.Oppenheimer believed that it was necessary to test it outbefore
actually putting it in the bomb.General Groves
said thatthey can’t
test such things becausethey had produced only a small amount of plutonium.But
Oppenheimer was adamant thatthe test was necessary.So General Groves had to
finally agree.And then, friends, the Trinity Test was conducted.I talked about
this at the beginning of the video.In the desert of New Mexico,
a test nuclear bomb was droppedThis test bomb was called
Gadget.It contained 13 pounds of plutonium.Scientists hung Gadget 100 ft in the
air using a steel tower.And on 16th July 1945,at 5.30 am,this bomb was
detonated.As I told you,this bomb was much more powerful than Oppenheimer
expected.The steel tower completely evaporated.
After the bomb blast, a mildly radioactive green-coloured
glass was formed,which was named Trinitite.It was after seeing this blast,that
Oppenheimer uttered some lines of the Bhagavad Gita.”Now I am become
death,the destroyer of worlds.I suppose we all thought that,one way or
another.”Actually, Oppenheimer was a Sanskrit scholarand he had studied
the entire Bhagavad Gitain its original form.He describes
the Bhagavad Gita as one of the most influential books of
his life.Less than a month after the Trinity test,on 6th August 1945,the Little
Boy bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.If that wasn’t enough,then three days later,
this plutonium Fat Man bombwas dropped on Nagasaki too.What was the effect of
dropping these atomic bombs?
I have discussed this in detail in the Hiroshima and
Nagasaki video.Albert Einstein’s first reactionupon hearing this news
was”Woe is me.”A melancholy statement.It is believed that Albert
Einstein also said this.”Mankind invented the atomic bomb,but no mouse
would ever construct a mousetrap.”Oppenheimer expressed happiness after
the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.He wished that this bombcould be
used against Nazi
Germany and Hitler.But when the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki,Oppenheimer was
shocked.On 17th August, he went to Washingtonto meet the Secretary of War.To
hand-deliver the letter he wrote.He directly said thathe wanted to ban nuclear
weapons.He was very regretful about his part in it.The technology he handed
over to humas.Oppenheimer considered the first bomb dropped on Hiroshima as a
necessary evil.But now he was afraid for the future.What
will different countries do with this technology in the future?In the meantime,
in April 1945,American President Roosevelt passed away.The next American
President was Harry Truman.Two months after the bomb was dropped on
Nagasaki,Oppenheimer got a chanceto meet President Truman.When meeting the
President, he said directly,”I have blood on my hands.
“And President Truman was so angry after hearing this
thathe started shouting at him.He told his secretary to throw Oppenheimer out
of the officeand that he didn’t want to see his face ever again.Oppenheimer
later worked with the US Atomic Energy Commissionto stop other such nuclear
attacks.He wanted to establish control over nuclear weapons.In 1949, when
President Truman approached the commissionwith the idea of making a hydrogen
Oppenheimer strongly opposed it.But this opposition was of
no usebecause America developed a hydrogen bomb laterand also conducted tests
in 1952.Edward Teller was the scientistwho helped in making this hydrogen
bomb.And he is called the Father of the Hydrogen Bomb today.Because of
Oppenheimer’s resistanceand his left-wing ideology
his job was snatched away from him. He spent the rest of his
life in the academic profession and used to give lectures all over the
world. Even though he was nominated for the Nobel Prize thrice, he could not win
even once. In 1965, due to throat cancer, Oppenheimer died at the age of 62.Which
was not surprising as he was a terrible chain smoker throughout his life. Today,
there are 9 countries that have nuclear weapons. India, Pakistan, China, the USA,
France, the UK, Israel, Russia, and North Korea.