destructive sides of the power of science

For commemorating the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki two links to recent comments, which I left on the blog Azimuth. One link is to a comment to the new scientist article article “The carbon cost of Germany’s nuclear ‘Nein danke!’ ” where I try to explain why the authors arguments that Germany’s renunciation of commercial nuclear power generation leads to more carbon output are flawed.

A second comment is related to the Manhattan project itself but also to the dangers of biotechnology.

7 Responses to “destructive sides of the power of science”

1. Yoshiko Says:

I recommend the new data visualization by Neil Halloran called the The shadow piece, Part 1 -The nuclear threat which illustrates the threats of nuclear warfare and illustrates some of the implications of a third (nuclear) world war. By the way do you have any idea why there were no western European targets in Southern France, Spain and Italy etc. on the nuclear target list? (Around minute 5:20)

No I don’t know. The information on targets in Western Europe doesn’t seem to be among the data sources he is linking to on the webpage. The link Ira Helfand and Lachlan Forrow contains russian targets in the US. And the post on the Future of Life Institute shows the US targets in Europe in 1956 like for example the 10 nuclear bomb targets on greater Berlin. It doesn’t show how many nuclear bombs the Russians intended to throw then on Berlin and also not what was planned for Western Europe. May be it is in the “Scott Sagan and Jane Esberg” data source which is not linked.

3. Yoshiko Says:

10 nuclear bomb targets on greater Berlin sounds already enough to wipe the city out. Do you really think that the russians would have directed yet some more nuclear missiles onto Berlin? By the way are there still some nuclear missiles pointed twowards Berlin? Do you know?

4. Yoshilko Says:

I forgot to ask: how does it feel if you are targeted like that?

5. History Enthusiast Says:

One should mention that those nuclear warheads were part of the Balance of terror that is they were intended to guarantee peace in Europe.
It should in particular be mentioned that german anxieties and their accompanying factors played already a key role in the development of World War I, itself a key in the Cold war conflict. The Guardian has made a very instructive interactive documentation about The first world war. From the spoken text by Stephen Moss, Jay Winter (hope I understood everything correctly) about Germany and its role for the origins of WWI (part 1):

“Germany was a country in political, social, cultural anxieties. One side – high tide of modernity the other side political blockade between the government, socialists, catholics. Then high nationalism. And culturally it’s a country that is dissatisfied with modernization, with civilization. It’s a country still on it’s way of being unified and it’s a country uneasy with itself.”

The following sentences clarify were this uneasyness might have come from – at least to some extend :

From the 1880s onwards there had been a degree of imperial competition. France added colonies mainly in Africa and in Indochina. Russian empire was the biggest country in the world. Big players in terms of empire were Britain, France and there is also a very large empire – the austria-hungarian empire. There was a sense that the world was sort of full up by 1914 and there weren’t places that were up for grand (ground?). German political mentality was striving for an empire in Africa, in Asia everywhere, but they were pretty late.

6. Mr. Hood Says:

@History Enthusiast

thanks or pointing out this interesting documentary.

So the germans were alread by then megalomanic and their fear was to get not enough of the pi.

7. History Enthusiast Says:

So the germans were alread by then megalomanic and their fear was to get not enough of the pi.

Sort of I guess. Did you look at the documentary? They continue with an explanation:

It’s about patriotism and each of them think they have the best way/(wit ?). That is the best way is to behave is to be german, the best way to be have(heard?) is to be french, the best way to behave is to be american, is to be south-african. And then the ground where they can put their ideas into action becomes sacred.

but the germans were apparently rather paranoic in finding “their best way”. That is the documentary then continues:

Germany sees itself under pressure encircled by enemies. It’s in anxiety.

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