Oppenheimer - what do you think?

  • A new American movie hade recently premiered. Many who have seen it believe that this is a film that will go down in history as "one of the better ones".



    "The story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb."


    Rules

    No spoilers

    How do I prepare before watching? (Some find it confusing if you don't know the history. Suggest how to best prepare)

    Tell us what you think!





    Oppenheimer Trailer

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    IMDB (8.8)

  • Good movie. The last hour (after the bombs dropped) is all about the ensuing politics. So it would, as you heard, help to brush up on the history before seeing, so it is easier to follow. Always nice seeing scientists as hero's. They seldom get star billing, and deserve more cameo roles.

  • Always nice seeing scientists as hero's.

    Proud and fallible heroes

    Oppenheimer ...still smoking two years before it killed him.

    It took a war to get unity of purpose among all these proud scientists to make a bomb.

    Hopefully we can see unity among the proud to make LENR useful...without war

    Robert Oppenheimer and Cigarettes
    The ‘father of the atomic bomb’ and his obsession with smoking
    piggsboson.medium.com


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  • GF-02608-1024x683.jpgJ. Robert Oppenheimer (as portrayed by actor Cillian Murphy) points to buildings of the Los Alamos Laboratory in a scene from Christopher Nolan's film 'Oppenheimer' (Image courtesy of Universal Pictures)

    With any film about a historical event, one can expect portions of the movie will be accurate and others modified for theatrical purposes. Those who are familiar with the story of the Manhattan Project and of the life of its chief scientist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, will have a slightly different lens to view Christopher Nolan’s adaption of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, American Prometheus, written by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. I leave it to professional critics to discuss the merits of the film, which overall I found excellent, and will give a slightly closer look at some technical details shown in the film.

    Nolan walked the fine line of providing enough technical details to tell the story of the Manhattan Project, but not as much as to require a college degree in physics to understand what was happening. Some of the film’s simplifications were done by almost completely ignoring the work performed at other Manhattan Project’s sites—namely at Hanford, Washington, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Their only mention was in reference to their production of fissionable materials, as Oppenheimer drops representative marbles into glass bowls. From all my readings about the subject, this scene was purely fictional, but it did convey very well the challenge the project faced as it raced to produce enough materials for the weapons Oppenheimer and his fellow scientists were developing at the Los Alamos Laboratory. I think the sense of the scale of the Manhattan Project is probably not palpable from the film.

    For many viewers, one of the “surprises” is probably the scene of Oppenheimer poisoning the apple for Patrick Blackett, his tutor at Cambridge. Unless you have a collection of books about Oppenheimer’s life on your bookshelf, this event is usually one that is not often told and certainly one that looked fictional. But, as surreal as it looks, this event did happen, and the only uncertainty was the exact poison that he used. Since Potassium Cyanide is a poison known to most moviegoers, Nolan made the choice to use that as a clear indicator of what was occurring. As to Oppenheimer being introduced to Niels Bohr by his mentor at Cambridge, Patrick Blackett, it is incorrect. That introduction was made via Ernest Rutherford, the head of the Cambridge Lab, in the spring of 1926. The conversation between them that follows, however, is factual.

    Nolan’s film also tends to distort the Bohr-Heisenberg connection. For those unaware, there was a meeting in September 1941 in Copenhagen between the two scientists. What happened at the meeting is still debated to this day: Was Heisenberg warning Bohr that Germany believed it could make an atomic weapon? Or was he hoping that Bohr might prevent the United States from pursuing the development of an atomic bomb to be used against Germany? After Bohr’s dramatic escape (which is partially told in the film), he would have lent more insight to the key figures as to his understanding of the German program.


    A Manhattan Project historian comments on ‘Oppenheimer’
    Although Nolan’s film is not technically accurate throughout, the adjustments in 'Oppenheimer' are made for understandable artistic reasons, writes an…
    thebulletin.org

  • I thing that Nolan followed the good way to enlarge the viewers even if they didn"t have special knowledges or background in this way.

  • Saw it last week. Very complicated (in story and timeline).

    Probably best to read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Robert_Oppenheimer before (or, like me, soon after).

    The most sympathetic character was Groves!

    Minor-boo: they showed Richard Fenman bongo-drumming, but not his paper-in-the-blast yield calculation.

    Reportedly totally studio, not CGI (Not sure how they did the final ignite-the-atmosphere shot)

    Must-see!

  • Getting the job done.

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  • Frogfall It was indeed Enrico Fermi who calculated the blast yield at Trinity.


    Fermi at Trinity

    J. I. Katz∗

    Dept. Physics and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences

    Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. 63130

    and

    Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N. Mex. 87545

    (Dated: April 7, 2021)

    Abstract

    Enrico Fermi estimated the yield of the Trinity test to be about 10 kilotons by dropping small

    pieces of paper and observing their motion in the blast wave. This is about half the radiochemically

    derived value of approximately 21 kilotons that necessarily includes thermal and nuclear radiation

    that do not contribute to the blast. Although this story is classic, there appears to be no account

    of how he related his observation to the yield. This note attempts to reconstruct how he might

    have done so.


    https://arxiv.org/pdf/2103.05784.pdf

  • It was indeed Enrico Fermi who calculated the blast yield at Trinity.

    Thanks for the report Alan Smith


    Actually, I would not be surprised if Enrico Fermi made up the entire story - maybe as a cover for being party to information which he was not officially entitled to know.


    The sharing of information in secret projects - even between members of a wider team - is always supposed to be on a "need to know" basis. However, in practice, knowledge is often shared between trusted colleagues without any of them being able to "officially justify" it - maybe because advice is sought, or sometimes due to general practicality (e.g. always insisting one team member leave the room every time a particular topic is discussed).


    By ostensibly basing the bomb yield on the "falling paper" test, it would have not only protected Fermi from accusations of having information that he shouldn't possess, at that point in the project - but it would have also covered for anyone who might have "shared" such information with him.


    Conversely, of course, Fermi was a notorious practical joker - so could have made an educated guess, and said he calculated it from the falling paper test, just to rattle any scientists that he felt were being "overly serious" ;)


    Did anyone actually witness him carrying out the test?

    "The most misleading assumptions are the ones you don't even know you're making" - Douglas Adams

  • Actually, I would not be surprised if Enrico Fermi made up the entire story - maybe as a cover for being party to information which he was not officially entitled to know.

    I do not see why he would make up such a thing, or any reason to doubt he did the test. The test is simple, elegant and pretty obvious in retrospect, which is the kind of physics he did. Also, I think everyone knew approximately how big the explosion was. They estimated it by various methods. Word got around. That was not the kind of data you could keep secret. I am sure they all knew approximately how big it should be before the test, based on theory. They had to know that to make the gadget work.


    They had to estimate the yield to make sure the implosion would last long enough, and for various other reasons. Also to estimate whether it would trigger a chain reaction and destroy the entire earth. I have not seen the movie but one of the trailers shows that discussion. Minute 1:33 here:


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    By the way, the fellow who pushed that red button worked on cold fusion. I have forgotten his name. Gene Mallove knew him.

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