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EXPLORING THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF THE MAN BEHIND THE ATOMIC BOMB IN CHRISTOPHER NOLAN'S LATEST MOVIE

Take a brief look into the life and story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, depicted in Christopher Nolan's latest film.

20.07.2023
BY SUKSMAJATI KUMARA
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The father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, is the talk of the town as Christopher Nolan's film "Oppenheimer" hit Indonesian theaters yesterday, July 19, 2023. Born on April 22, 1904, in New York City, United States, Oppenheimer was an immigrant from Germany of Jewish descent. He pursued higher education, attending Harvard University to study chemistry in 1922.

Oppenheimer later traveled to Cambridge, England, to begin his postgraduate work in physics. Working at the Cavendish Laboratory under Nobel Prize winner J.J. Thomson, who discovered electrons, Oppenheimer embarked on his atomic research.

He also participated in the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos Laboratory in the United States, which successfully developed the atomic bomb.

On July 16, 1945, Oppenheimer and others involved in the Manhattan Project witnessed the first atomic bomb explosion in the desert of the United States. Shortly after, two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, killing thousands of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Most of those involved in the Manhattan Project believed that their weapon's success brought a positive outcome by ending World War II.

"While it brought death and devastation on a horrific scale, it also avoided more casualties. American, British, and Japanese lives," said Leslie Groves, the Manhattan Project Director, as quoted by IFL Science on Wednesday (July 19, 2023). In the film "Oppenheimer," Groves is portrayed by Matt Damon.

Oppenheimer himself was aware of his responsibility and is most often associated with the atomic bomb. In a documentary titled "The Decision to Drop the Bomb," he revealed his feelings upon witnessing the first atomic bomb explosion. Oppenheimer quoted a verse from the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Bhagavadgita.

"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent," said Oppenheimer. "I remembered a line from the Hindu scripture, Bhagavadgita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the prince to fulfill his duty and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form. He says, 'Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another."

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