On this day in 1945, the U.S. successfully detonated the first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Why do I care, you might ask? Because the chapter I’m working on takes place in a cave under the Trinity test site, of course.
I won’t elaborate too much on this plot point, except to say that I’m interested by the connection between computers and the atom bomb, how the one technology developed in lockstep with the other. There’s something about the linkage of these thinking machines to humankind’s most destructive invention, and the terrible awesomeness of both, that I’m trying to tease out. Don’t think I’ve quite done it yet, but we’re getting there. (Not coincidentally, the lab at Los Alamos is where physicists are currently trying to construct a quantum computer. Lord knows where that breakthrough will eventually lead.)
Also if you haven’t seen it, hie thee to a library and get your hands on a copy of Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb. It’s a gripping account of the Manhattan Project’s history that also illustrates the basic science behind nuclear fission. In addition to being helpful for my background research, every time I want to whine about how hard it is to write a book I look at it, and imagine its author-illustrator Jonathan Fetter-Vorm creating original artwork in addition to the words, and shut up. Check it:
(End note: my birthday falls on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, and every year my grandmother, who was an anti-nuclear activist, would send me memorial programs in lieu of a birthday card. So it’s possible that I have some sub-conscious interest in the topic. You know, Write What You Know and all that other literary advice.)