Testing of the Peacekeeper re-entry vehicles at the Kwajalein Atoll. All eight fired from only one missile. Each line, if its warhead were live, represents the potential explosive power of about 375 kilotons of TNT, about twelve times larger than the detonation of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.
I did my two year presentation on the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings and the different political factions within the US and Japan at the times of the strikes. I think I wrote probably thirty thousand words about the whole thing in total just trying to grasp at the scale of the insanity. It was the first time I ever got a clear picture of how even the smartest of us can be subject to mob hysteria, and that human beings, even the best and brightest of us, can do unthinkable things.
I’d like to say it was a humbling moment. It was a 2 year long moment that went through my psyche like paint-stripper goes through a watercolour. Radiation deaths, exposure, long term consequences, before and after shots of the cities from the air, countless hours of news reports, quotes, the stream of scientific fear leading up to the first live Manhattan test : will this destroy the world?
People talk to me about human nature and this is what always think of : Human nature is that when we are faced with the question “Will this destroy the world?” we push the button and find out. How am I supposed to relate to that? How does anyone?