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View Diary: Paul Tibbets - Dead (96 comments)

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  •  My father worked on the Manhattan Project (3+ / 0-)
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    RubDMC, johnnygunn, fiddler crabby

    at the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago and years later he ultimately fell into a debilitating depression that disabled him the rest of his life.  I never thought about whether working on the Project could have contributed to his illness.  I figured it was just having to support 9 kids!

    BTW, my father was once overexposed to radiation when he dropped some radioactive material on the floor that rolled under a desk.  He had to reach under the desk to get it.  He had to wear some sort of radiation badge that measured his daily exposure, and after that incident he was furloughed for 4 weeks or so to Minneapolis to get away from the lab because he had been overexposed.  Minneapolis was not his home, so he basically had to handle it on his own and he was forbidden to speak of his experience to anyone (because everything was "top secret").

    •  Thank you very much for sharing that (1+ / 0-)
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      Given the compressed time frame, the sheer scale, the danger, and all the unknowns, the Manhattan Project was the preeminent science endeavor of all time. So much pure theory had to be translated into working production that it boggles my mind that it worked. The marriage of metallurgy (and chemistry in general) with that of physics was, and probably still is unprecedented.

      I never thought about that; it must have been very difficult for the insiders to discuss the import of what took place. On the one hand, it was a display of mans phenomenal ability to come together and solve seemingly insurmountable obstacles. On the other hand, the effort was for the destruction of other people.

      But I firmly believe it saved a lot of people in the end.

      I'm sorry to hear about your dad. Depression is a terrible thing to experience, and not just for the person suffering with it.

      I was happiest as a heathen.

      by MouseOfSuburbia on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 08:46:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for your thoughts. (1+ / 0-)
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        My father felt significant guilt about his (minor) role in the Manhattan Project for the rest of his life.  He signed Dr. Leo Szilard's petition, and he and others resigned from the Project at some point after the two bombs were dropped on Japan.

        But one of my father's best friends always told him that he (his friend) very well may not have survived the war but for the bombings.  His friend was a soldier on a ship steaming towards Japan when the bombs were dropped.  While this gave some comfort to my father, I don't think it assuaged his guilt.

        The issue is complex, and I am not sure that I know the right answer. I do know that my father was haunted by the use of atomic bombs against citizens of Japan.

        My father was a very religious man.  He once quoted some scientist - I don't know whether he knew the scientist (I doubt it) - who I believe worked on the bomb and witnessed the Trinity test.  The quote went something like this and was spoken after witnessing the test:  "I now know what it really means to have sinned."  I think that may have summed up how my father felt.

        •  I add my thanks to you... (0+ / 0-)

          ...for sharing your stories about your dad. They've helped make this topic, which can seem so big and remote and unknowable, much more immediate and rich.

          I wrote this diary on impulse. I had sat down for a few minutes while making dinner, and my wife had the TV on to some network news program (which I never watch) when I heard word of Tibbet's death. I pieced this together in a very short time from the flood of thoughts that came to me with this news.

          The response was overwhelming, with a huge range of sincere and well-expressed comments. Thanks for adding yours.

          I'm very sorry for your dad's suffering.

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