The searing white heat, vaporized metals, the unearthly light which permeated stone, the sand melted into basins of green glass, the bodies quivering with radiation fevers, the troops who grew weak with anemia and died. Each hot blast burned its signature of a death spectre through the very soul of each watcher. Atomic. The very word was equated with death. Bureaucrats replaced it with a subliminal, designed to evoke feelings of newness and clarity. NUCLEAR energy was a word having no connection with Hiroshima, with Nagasaki, with endless series of merciless troop tests, with civilian studies where fallout plumes covered neighboring towns. Fallout. The word burned itself into the world mind, from the oligarchs down to the laborer. Fallout was the return, the reaction, the blood of another House on one’s hands. Fallout would return to speak for those who had been burned, the haunting which crept into the window of their children’s playrooms, however isolated from all of society. After the winds would strew its killing poison across the world, with traces on the grass, fallout would not be stopped. Burying itself in a thousand different ways, fallout would sprout again in flowers, in corn, in catde, in the oceans, for a thousand generations. The poison would not cease in any future. After the blast, long after the thunder, fallout would remain. Fallout would burn the earth.
Oligarchs and civilians alike now came to grips with the facts. Nuclear weapons were not simple devices capable of insuring world peace. They were weapons soaked in a consciousness of fear. Those who held them as tools of threat held only their own destruction. The weapons themselves were anomalies, things that should not exist. The Bomb was no blessing. Oligarchs came to appreciate the implication of total devastation. Not just the blast, but the aftermath; the hideous dust-filled aftermath where food could not be eaten for fear of the poison it contained. Oligarchs dreaded the thought of such an hideous Armageddon. Nuclear weapons would be the very last tool of a future conflict.
No one could turn the clock back. No one can. Power cannot, superior command cannot. Were it possible to turn the clock, the effort would have focussed on the microsecond before the triggering mechanism snapped into placed over Alamogordo, that instant when Dr. Oppenheimer spoke the verses of horror at what had been achieved. Nothing would ever be the same again, a world where the Golem had been unleashed. Faceless, vague, lumbering in the streets, the avenger. The nuclear prize had literally turned in radioactive ash in the hands of those whose pride it once filled. The surprise was complete, and terrifying. The dust, the ash, became the very symbol of this fear. No long concerned only about nuclear fire. In the end, the fear of fire acquired a companion. Fear of the dust. To breath it brought death.
But there were other complexities now. Others in the equation. Enemies. Enemies with nuclear horrors in their hands. Perhaps these enemies would not appreciate the true nature of what they had stolen and made. Perhaps they did not comprehend the terrifying aftermaths of Hiroshima, of Nagasaki. Of dust, of poison in their children’s milk. Perhaps they did not cling so much to life as to refrain from using their nuclear stores in a vengeful madness. The world had become convoluted. It turned in on itself now. Here was a weapon which threatened terror, but which could never be used. And worse, it could not be returned to its source. The manifestation which had embodied itself in this terror weapon was a message for those who resist the deep.
The reversal in thought was striking. How to prevent one’s enemy from using the Bomb which one used to threaten that enemy? Clarity was gone. Ambiguity was the gameboard. Sanity was gone. Only intensely convoluted thought, its twisting plots, and its distorted vision remained. Amid the surreal developments, one now had to somehow undo that which was done; a task too unwieldy for human beings to engage without serious personal and social risks. Now there had to be a way to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. To place a freeze on nuclear fire and its poison dust. Until these weapons could be replaced by another, there would be only the tensions of a world on the brink of doom. To live in such an atmosphere of fear, of terror, of threat provoked social revolutions on such a vast scale that the world has been changed and demoralized. The diplomatic games necessary would provoke panic and anxiety until the task of undoing the nuclear knot was accomplished.
The steps toward achieving these objectives therefore took a turn toward madness, and for a time it seemed as though the world had been turned over to madmen in uniforms. Indeed, it had been. Before other nations developed nuclear arsenals of their own, neither military nor military engineers never considered the need for developing nuclear countermeasures. The Bomb was thought to be the only weapon of importance. But now the tables were reversed. The avowed enemy had this Bomb. The balance was frustrating. What could be done to suitably impress the Soviet Union, whose successive nuclear detonations were being monitored throughout the seismographic stations of a worldwide surveillance cooperative? In what must remain, perhaps the most singularly aristocratic solution to the problem, a command directive was given to develop a “bigger Bomb”, one which the Soviets supposedly could never steal. The opinion of them was that these thieves of the Atomic Bomb were barely able to thresh their own wheat on time, let alone develop a thermonuclear weapon. A bigger Bomb might shake the pride of that nation down. Complete idiocy, the conclusions of those who never walked on city streets.
Based on theoretical work completed by Hans Bethe, who proposed that greater energy could be derived from the fusion of lighter nuclei than the fission of heavy ones, a new nuclear weapon was quickly transformed from contemplation to design. The working model for the new Hydrogen Bomb was developed by Edward Teller, who used a small yield plutonium bomb as the trigger for a fixed volume deuterium reaction. This project was referred to as the GREENHOUSE experiment. The first such thermonuclear weapon, was demonstrated in the Pacific in 1951, a pubhc spectacle of purposeful intent The Soviets, who measured the blast on a hundred different meters across their vast territory, were now greatly concerned over this weapon; whose yield per weapon, according to the claims, was apparently unlimited. Lifting from the horizon as a veritable dome of sun-like brilliance, replete with incandescent amoeba-like plasmoids, the Hydrogen Bomb became a new and true terror to other nations. Madness. Surrealism. And then the Soviets developed their own version and shocked those weak minded aristocrats who hoped to so shock them.
- CHAPTER 3
- CHAPTER 5