The technologists claim that if everything works [in a nuclear fission reactor] according to their blueprints, fission energy will be a safe and very attractive solution to the energy needs of the world. ... The real issue is whether their blueprints will work in the real world and not only in a "technological paradise."... Opponents of fission energy point out a number of differences between the real world and the "technological paradise." ... No acts of God can be permitted.
O. Hahn and F. Strassmann have discovered a new type of nuclear reaction, the splitting into two smaller nuclei of the nuclei of uranium and thorium under neutron bombardment. Thus they demonstrated the production of nuclei of barium, lanthanum, strontium, yttrium, and, more recently, of xenon and caesium. It can be shown by simple considerations that this type of nuclear reaction may be described in an essentially classical way like the fission of a liquid drop, and that the fission products must fly apart with kinetic energies of the order of hundred million electron-volts each.
When all thermonuclear sources of energy are exhausted a sufficiently heavy star will collapse. Unless fission due to rotation, the radiation of mass, or the blowing off of mass by radiation, reduce the star's mass to the order of that of the sun, this contraction will continue indefinitely.
J. Robert Oppenheimer
The pace of science forces the pace of technique. Theoretical physics forces atomic energy on us; the successful production of the fission bomb forces upon us the manufacture of the hydrogen bomb. We do not choose our problems, we do not choose our products; we are pushed, we are forced -- by what? By a system which has no purpose and goal transcending it, and which makes man its appendix.
Today, nothing is unusual about a scientific discovery's being followed soon after by a technical application: The discovery of electrons led to electronics; fission led to nuclear energy. But before the 1880's, science played almost no role in the advances of technology. For example, James Watt developed the first efficient steam engine long before science established the equivalence between mechanical heat and energy.
Most of us do not understand nuclear fission, but we accept it. I don't understand television, but I accept it. I don't understand radio, but every week my voice goes out around the world, and I accept it. Why is it so easy to accept all these man-made miracles and so difficult to accept the miracles of the Bible?
Modern thinking is that time did not start with the big bang, and that there was a multiverse even before the big bang. In the inflation theory, and in string theory, there were universes before our big bang, and that big bangs are happening all the time. Universes are formed when bubbles collide or fission into smaller bubles.
Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. The key to our being here now is time, 4.54 billion (Earth) years of time. Nuclear fission wasn't discovered until long after Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace published their original books and papers, for example. Our ability to measure atomic masses wasn't developed until long after their deaths. These features of nature enabled us to reckon the age of the Earth and compare it with speciation rates here.
Mark Spitz had met plenty of the divine-retribution folks over the months. This was their moment; they were umbrella salesmen standing outside a subway entrance in a downpour. The human race deserved the plague, we brought it on ourselves for poisoning the planet, for the Death of God, the calculated brutalities of the global economic system, for driving primordial species to extinction: the entire collapse of values as evidenced by everything from nuclear fission to reality television to alternate side of the street parking. Mark Spitz could only endure these harangues for a minute or two before he split. It was boring.The plague was the plague. You were wearing galoshes, or you weren't.
For the first time in my life, I was reading things which had not been approved by the Prophet's censors, and the impact on my mind was devastating. Sometimes I would glance over my shoulder to see who was watching me, frightened in spite of myself. I began to sense faintly that secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy... censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to it's subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked, contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything-you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.
Robert A. Heinlein
Science began with a gadget and a trick. The gadget was the wheel; the trick was fire. We have come a long way from the two-wheel cart to the round-the-world transport plane, or from the sparking flint to man-made nuclear fission. Yet I wonder whether the inhabitants of Hiroshima were more aware of the evolution of science than ancient man facing an on-storming battle chariot. It isn't physics that will make this a better life, nor chemistry, nor sociology. Physics may be used to atom-bomb a nation and chemistry may be used to poison a city and sociology has been used to drive people and classes against classes. Science is only an instrument, no more than a stick or fire or water that can be used to lean on or light or refresh, and also can be used to flail or burn or drown. Knowledge without morals is a beast on the loose.
Dagobert D. Runes