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I Am Become Death

Robert Oppenheimer was the man one man responsible for the development for the atomic bomb the United States used against Japan at the close of World War II. He was born in 1904 in New York City, and showed an early interest in science. He entered Harvard at 18 and graduated 3 years later with honors. He continued his studies in theoretical physics at various universities in Europe prior to teaching at the California Institute of Technology. He was considered one of the top tem theoretical physicists in the world, and specialized in the study of sub-atomic particles and gamma rays. From 1943 he began directing 4500 men and women at Los Alamos, New Mexico, whose sole purpose was to build an atomic bomb. Two years and two billion dollars later, they had successfully detonated the first atomic bomb.

When he saw what he had made, Robert Oppenheimer underwent a radical revaluation of his values; a value inversion. Upon seeing the first fireball and mushroom cloud, he quoted from the Bhagavad-Gita, “I am become death.” Two months later he resigned his position at Los Alamos and spent much of the remainder of his life trying to undo the damage, trying to get the genie of atomic weapons back in the bottle. There are certain individuals who, in a flash so to speak, like Oppenheimer, see that all they once valued is really of no lasting value at all. Their entire life has been turned on its head, everything is upside down. They see with painful clarity that the very things they prized most in life are in reality worthless baubles.

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