The Seattle Times Web Edition: 50 Years from Trinity

IN THEIR WORDS: Scientists, leaders talk about science, war and the bomb

IMAGE: The aged Teller in the foreground, with a chalkboard full of equations in the back

"Most did not know about this work. It was top secret. Among those who knew, not all understood, and among those who understood, not all had access to key decision-makers in Washington. Among those who knew, and understood, and who had access, I was the only one who stood up for it. Without that, it is certain the positive information would never have reached the President. I did something, and I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I did it because it contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. My only regret is that so many of my former friends who disagreed became bitter. I stood up to an unreasonable majority which wanted to stop the hydrogen bomb."

Dr. Edward Teller on his role in the development of
the hydrogen bomb, Seattle Times interview, 1995.


IMAGE: President Roosevelt
"You who are scientists may have been told that you are in part responsible for the debacle (war) of today....but I assure you that it is not the scientists of the world who are responsible....What has come about has been caused solely by those who would use, and are using, the progress that you have made along lines of peace in an entirely different cause."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940.

IMAGE: Japanese prime minister Shigenori
"As long as America and England insist on unconditional surrender our country has no alternative but to see it through in an all-out effort for the sake of survival and the honor of the homeland."

Japanese prime minister Shigenori Togo
in turning down surrender demand, July 11, 1945.


IMAGE: President Eisenhower
"I was against (use of the atomic bomb) on two counts. First, the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing. Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon."

Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a post-war interview.


IMAGE: Winston Churchill
"To avert a vast, indefinite butchery, to bring the war to an end, to give peace to the world, to lay healing hands upon its tortured peoples by a manifestation of overwhelming power at the cost of a few explosions seemed, after all our toils and perils, a miracle of deliverance."

Winston Churchill in his history of World War II.


IMAGE: Col. Paul Tibbets
"A bright light filled the plane. The first shock wave hit us. We were eleven and a half slant miles from the atomic explosion, but the whole airplane cracked and crinkled from the blast. I yelled `flak!' thinking a heavy gun battery had found us."

Col. Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay,
recounting the explosion at Hiroshima.

IMAGE: Emperor Hirohito
"The enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives."

Japanese emperor Hirohito in broadcasting to the
Japanese people his acceptance of surrender.


IMAGE: J. Robert Oppenheimer
"It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful, they are found because it was possible to find them."

J. Robert Oppenheimer.


"Knowledge itself is the basis of civilization."

Physicist Niels Bohr.

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Copyright, 1995, Seattle Times Company