June 22, 2010

CLASSIC! (via Greg Hlatky):

Joan Hinton, Physicist Who Chose China Over Atom Bomb, Is Dead at 88 (WILLIAM GRIMES, 6/11/.10, NY Times)

Ms. Hinton was recruited for the Manhattan Project in February 1944 while still a graduate student in physics at the University of Wisconsin. At the secret laboratory at Los Alamos, N.M., where she worked with Enrico Fermi, she was assigned to a team that built two reactors for testing enriched uranium and plutonium.

When the first atom bomb was detonated near Alamogordo, N.M., on July 16, 1945, she and a colleague, riding a motorcycle, dodged Army jeep patrols and hid near a small hill about 25 miles from the blast point to witness the event.

“We first felt the heat on our faces, then we saw what looked like a sea of light,” she told The South China Morning Post in 2008. “It was gradually sucked into an awful purple glow that went up and up into a mushroom cloud. It looked beautiful as it lit up the morning sun.”

Ms. Hinton thought that the bomb would be used for a demonstration explosion to force a Japanese surrender. After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, she became an outspoken peace activist. She sent the mayors of every major city in the United States a small glass case filled with glassified desert sand and a note asking whether they wanted their cities to suffer the same fate.

In 1948, alarmed at the emerging cold war, she gave up physics and left the United States for China, then in the throes of a Communist revolution she wholeheartedly admired. “I did not want to spend my life figuring out how to kill people,” she told National Public Radio in 2002. “I wanted to figure out how to let people have a better life, not a worse life.”


How many people did the PRC kill during the 60 years she supported it? Over a hundred million?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 22, 2010 7:47 PM
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