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Travelling to the nuclear bomb test site


Witnessing test explosions of the nuclear bomb
Jeremy Bernstein Scientist
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I played a lot of tennis with Francis. We played in a tournament, actually, Francis, in a doubles tournament, and were beaten by Rusty Ball and his son. Rusty Ball was a tennis player from.... somewhere in New Mexico, and they beat us pretty bad.

And toward the end of the summer, Francis said, 'Well, I can’t play with you next week.' I said, 'Oh, that’s too bad.' He said, 'Yes, I’m going to Nevada to watch nuclear weapons test.' I said, 'I didn’t know you were working on nuclear weapons.' He said, 'No I’m not, but I was interested and I asked Carson Mark and Carson Mark asked me if I’d like to go, and I said yes, I was curious.' I said, 'Geez, could I go?' He said, 'Well, you have to ask Carson.'

So I went and asked Carson, and Carson liked what I’d done in the summer, that I’d worked on this pure physics problem, which I was going to publish, the two of us were going to publish from Los Alamos. He thought it was good, because Los Alamos had the reputation as a bomb factory and here are these guys working on this nice physics problem. So he said, 'Yes, you can come, but the only thing is you have to pay your own way, and the airfare.' I said, 'That’s fine, I’ll do that.'

Born in 1929, Jeremy Bernstein is an American physicist, educator and writer known for the clarity of his writing for the lay reader on the major issues of modern physics. After graduating from Harvard University, Bernstein worked at Harvard and at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton. In 1962 he became an Associate Professor of Physics at New York University, and later a Professor of Physics at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, a position he continues to hold. He was also on the staff of The New Yorker magazine.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Nevada, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Francis Low, J Carson Mark

Duration: 1 minute, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: 15th June 2011

Date story went live: 07 September 2011