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The aftermath: 'The ground was converted into glass'


The sequence: the light, the click and then the sound
Jeremy Bernstein Scientist
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Then first there came the... click in your ears from the wave, and then the sound. So it was a series: the light, the click and the sound. And years later, I learned that in the first test in Nevada, there was a pool journalist called WL or WO Lawrence from the New York Times. And Oppenheimer had assigned Feynman to look after Lawrence. And there was the light, the click, and then the sound, and when the sound came Lawrence said to Feynman, ‘What was that?’ And everybody always held that up as an illustration of how ignorant Lawrence was but actually, it was a good question, because the fact that there is a sequence is not a trivial matter.


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: Operation Plumbbob, New York Times, WL Laurence, J Robert Oppenheimer, Richard Feynman

Duration: 1 minute, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: 15th June 2011

Date story went live: 07 September 2011