Thursday, July 16, 2015

Creation of the Atomic Servant - Trinity Turns Seventy

 Let there be light

  Seventy years ago today, at 5:29 in the morning, the first plutonium implosion device, code named* Trinity, was detonated atop a 20 meter tall tower at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The Trinity test resulted in a 20 kiloton explosion that turned the twilight into brilliant, blinding bright light. One unsuspecting observer from ten miles away was blinded by the sight... the last thing he saw was the first atomic detonation. 

Since that pivotal morning seventy years ago, two atomic weapons have been detonated over populated cities, and the international proliferation of nuclear technology has resulted in hundreds of above-ground and subterranean detonations. In that same time, nuclear energy has been harnessed, with the promise that the friendly atom would be mankind's servant

With the servant motif in mind, lets explore the notion that the atomic high priests of the Manhattan project, unwittingly created an atomic Golem on this date in 1945.


The story of the Golem is an ancient Judaic legend about the mystical creation of a man-like creature who ultimately becomes a monster. According to the tradition, a kabbalist** forms the image of a man out of clay, in emulation of God, forming Adam from the dust of the Earth. Then, mystical rites are performed, and the Hebrew word emet*** is carved into the forehead of the clay man, who then becomes animated. The Golem grows larger every day, and functions as a servant at first, but soon becomes an overgrown giant who destroys everything in its path.

The Golem can only be stopped by rubbing out the letter alef on his forehead, leaving two remaining letters, mem and tav, (mot - Hebrew for death). The Golem grows too tall for its creator to reach its forehead, but with the aid of a ladder, the kabbalist is able ascend to a height where he can erase the alef. The Golem immediately returns to a heap of clay, topples over on its creator, and crushes him to death.

The Atomic Golem that was created on July 16, 1945 by technological kabbalists has grown.**** The nuclear disasters at Chernobyl and Fukashima are evidence that the atomic Golem can behave like an out-of-control monster. Atomic marketeers tout the fact that nuclear facilities have been designed to withstand credible events, but there will no doubt be more nuclear disasters in the future because incredible events cannot be predicted or planned for.

*Trinity is an interesting choice for a name because it invokes an archaic Christian terminology for deity; as if those technological high priests intended to signify that their creation is the new god.

**A Jewish mystic - a holy man - a keeper of secret knowledge.

*alefmemtav = emet - Hebrew for truth
According to kabbalists, alef is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and represents Adam, the first man. mem is the exact middle of the alphabet (including the final forms) and is said to represent the messiah who would come in the meridian of time. tav is the last letter of the alphabet, and symbolizes the final judgment.

****"As of 1980 the United States DOD possessed in nuclear arms, the equivalent of six tons of TNT for every living (human) inhabitant on the face of the Earth." Robert Heilbroner - The Making of an Economic Society

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