Friday, February 08, 2008


I am reading P.D. Smith's Doomsday Men: The Real Doctor Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon. It's an odd, but very enjoyable, book mixing the relationship between science and weaponry in the 20th century with the visions found in science fiction.

As you might imagine based on the subject matter, the narrative is discursive, starting withe the idea of a true Doomsday bomb and then heading back to Marie Curie and Fritz Haber, the chemist who developed nitrogen fertilizer and the German chemical weapons program. One of his major themes appears to be the balance scientists take in assisting destruction and serving the greater good. The main subject of the book is Leo Szilard, the man who sought peace but who created the idea of the doomsday weapon.

It's a entertaining and educational read> I love the little details, like the fact that Marie Curie's personal papers remain radioactive and researchers have to sign a waiver before seeing them.

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