Infinity’s House

Excerpt from Infinity’s House by Ellen McLaughlin

But we don’t need the thing to win the war. We’ve as good as won the war already. And as for saving the world, well, what comes to mind is Alfred Nobel thinking that when he invented dynamite he was going to end human warfare – I know you think that’s an unfair analogy – Oh, Robert, I just – you’re so much more hopeful about mankind than I’ve ever been. It’s something I love in you but I don’t entirely trust. I don’t think you’ve ever had much to do with mankind. I mean, aren’t you the man who didn’t know about the stock-market crash until Lawrence told you about it a full year later? And that goes for all of us, we’re all at least somewhat removed from the rest of the world. But it’s particularly true of your people. I heard that the average age at Los Alamos is twenty-five. And these aren’t even normal young men. We’re all boys who spent our childhoods in basements, playing with radios, fooling with chemical compounds, always smarter and younger than any of the other kids around us, never at home in a group – until now. Now we’re surrounded by people just as strange and obsessive as ourselves. It’s this little hothouse of hybrids in the middle of the desert. Children. And all of us fascinated with gizmos – build a bomb by using the principle of fission? – Yeah, I could do that! I could do that! – and then we go off in a corner and tinker. That’s what we do best and we love doing it, get such a charge out of solving these problems that we forget what it is that we’re in fact bringing about. We behave as if this is just another gizmo, and, God, by far the most incredible one yet – satisfying on so many levels. But, in fact, we’ve never lived in this world we talk so much about. I don’t think you’re very familiar with human nature, really, and I don’t think you know much about mankind, Robert. Forgive me.

– Rabi to Oppenheimer

Does this apply to me?… yes…

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