‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds’

How Oppenheimer could have been literally right

I just released a new video: How Oppenheimer could really have destroyed the world.

Oppenheimer’s most famous quote is ‘Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.’ But how close did he come to actually doing so? This is the fascinating story of how there was genuine uncertainty around whether the first nuclear test could set the whole atmosphere on fire, how the US’s biggest ever nuclear explosion was an accident, and what lessons we can draw about the limits of calculation when taking calculated risks.

Oppenheimer is one of the most significant people of the 20th century, and this is just one of many lessons from his life and work—but I think it’s an underappreciated one, so I made a video about it.

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