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Twistings and turnings

Ted Taylor, by acclamation the best nuclear-weapon designer ever, began but never published a memoir called Changes of Heart. He describes August, 1945:

Most people were shocked by the simultaneous news of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the atomic bomb test at Alamogordo. I was mostly embarrassed. I had just gotten a degree in physics at Caltech, but had never heard of nuclear fission. Several other midshipmen who had heard the news on the barracks radio at Fort Schuyler in New York City asked me to explain how such a big explosion could come from such a small bomb. I couldn't even make up anything credible. Oliver Selfridge, hardly a model midshipman but a very bright mathematician from MIT, had picked up some information about nuclear fission before it was covered by the Manhattan Project's cloak of secrecy, and instantly became our battalion's expert on the awesome events. I felt cheated by not being in on what was going on. Oliver went on to become a prominent authority on artificial intelligence. I started a career that for some 30 years revolved about nuclear fission. I also started a series of twistings and turnings trying to fit into and rebel against the nuclear age.

At times, Down to Earth feels like nothing but twistings and turnings in trying to fit into and rebel against the consensus narrative of the space age. (And, of course, it keeps bumping into nuclear energy as space technology's ambivalent twin...)