LOS ALAMOS, NM—Granting researchers meaningful insights into the work environment of the top-secret Manhattan Project nuclear program, a set of newly unearthed journals reveal theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer annoyed his fellow scientists during the Trinity Test by quoting the Bhagavad Gita every time they did anything. “At first, I thought it was rather engaging, how Mr. Oppenheimer was able to recite so many verses from memory, and ruminating upon the concept of dharma was quite interesting for a little while; but we worked some rather long days at the primary site, and when one is attempting to calculate precisely the explosive energy of a nuclear weapon, all attention must be brought to bear on one’s slide rule, and that shit gets old,” the recently discovered journals of fellow researcher Vannevar Bush read in part, revealing that Oppenheimer subjected military personnel, his fellow scientists, the carpenters constructing the test pylon, and anyone else who would listen to hours of incessant babbling about the sacred Hindu text. “Even during meals, while we made small talk and attempted to acquaint ourselves with each other, Robert would quite simply not shut up about Krishna and Arjuna. I’ll admit, a chill went through me when he made his pronouncement directly following the explosion; but for days and weeks afterwards we’d be, say, making plans for lunch and from nowhere he’d declaim ‘I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,’ and, honestly, how can you enjoy a sandwich while sitting across from a man like that? Does he even know how significant that verse is?” The journal entries also revealed that the Trinity Test could have been conducted in only a few days had it not been for the time Oppenheimer quoted all 700 verses of the Bhagavad Gita while distracted technicians attempted to assemble the device’s core.

Advertisement