(urth) Good afternoon Urth

Gwern Branwen gwern at gwern.net
Thu Nov 16 08:22:17 PST 2017

On Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 11:57 PM, Marc Aramini <marcaramini at gmail.com> wrote:
> I figured I would push a narrative of violence and competition as the motivator for progress....
> Just got to the 20th century this week and taught Brighter Than a Thousand Suns
> about the Manhattan Project - had Oppenheimer’s granddaughter come in and
> talk to them today.

How fun.

Not that you need the suggestion, but one of my favorite books is all
about this theme of warfare and competitive pressures of various kinds
pushing (and corrupting) science/technology and is about the
post-Manhattan Project nuclear laboratories: Carter Scholz's 2002
novel _Radiance_. (I hesitate to label it 'science fiction', even
though Scholz is usually considered one and his last novel was
unambiguously SF, because it's so based on real events and SDI.)

I have an annotated transcription & scans at
https://www.gwern.net/docs/radiance/2002-scholz-radiance along with
supporting materials, some of which are quite interesting in their own
right, for example, Greg Benford's memoirs "Old Legends" (
https://www.gwern.net/docs/radiance/1995-benford-oldlegends.pdf ) or
Berger's "The _Astounding_ Investigation: The Manhattan Project's
Confrontation with Science Fiction" (
https://www.gwern.net/docs/radiance/1984-berger.djvu ) or MacKenzie &
Spinardi 1995's "Tacit Knowledge, Weapons Design, and the Uninvention
of Nuclear Weapons" (
https://www.gwern.net/docs/radiance/1995-mackenzie.pdf ). Physicists
or people interested in future weapons development might also find it
interesting to revisit _Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons_ (
), and consider the array of possible nuclear weapons - turns out
there are a lot of possible nuclear weapons going beyond classic
fission and fusion designs (apropos of which, 'quark fusion':


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