Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Atomic John

by David Samuels

This article is a profile of John Coster-Mullen, an amateur historian who has been working for years on the secrets of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the second world war.

Coster-Mullen has spent most of his life examining photographs, archival records, and random artifacts to put together the most comprehensive record we have of the construction and mechanics of Fat Man and Little Boy.

This article is like many in the New Yorker that focus on truly remarkable people. Samuels travels with Coster-Mullen on his trucking route, and describes their journey together with humor and an impressive eye for detail. He portrays Coster-Mullen as a genius, and a highly focused one at that.

The other interesting point of this article is the ease with which someone could build a working atomic or nuclear bomb. Many of the finer points of the construction of the bombs dropped by the Enola Gay would not concern an organization looking to detonate a suicide bomb, and that is very frightening.

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