Man 1: We can't tell you where you're going. All we can say is that you come to Washington
and start to work. It's an important story. Maybe. It's a story that we only want
one man working on. And you're the man.
Man 2: Well, needless to say, Bill, you accepted General Groves' offer. Before you go into
the business of how they discovered and then made the bomb, I wondered if you would
mind going right to the last chapter of the story first and telling me about the first
atomic bomb you ever saw go off.
Man 3: The first atomic blast I ever saw, was the first one that man had ever seen. On July
16, 1945 a caravan of scientists in buses and trucks moved along route 318 in the
[New] Mexico desert. Through sleepy little towns like Los Lunas, Belham, and Bernardo,
into the Sierra Oscura Mountain Range. There near an abandoned reservoir at Alamogordo
the titanic labors of our scientists were to be tested.
Loudspeaker voice: "Attention! Zero-Hour minus forty-five seconds!"
Man 3: A voice rang out somewhere in the black darkness and filled the night. It was almost
5:30 in the morning. A cold drizzle had been falling since midnight, and there was
talk that the test might even be called off.
Loudspeaker voice: "Zero-hour minus 30 seconds!"
Man 3: In a tower 20 miles away from me, the first atomic bomb waited in its cradle, a $2
billion baby waiting to be born. Five miles away from the tower that held the bomb,
Professor Robert Oppenheimer gave the signal that in a few seconds would set in operation
the delicate mechanisms that would release the greatest burst of energy ever berfore
released on earth.
Loudspeaker voice: "Zero-hour minus 15 seconds."
Man 3: No buttons would be pushed, no switches thrown. A series of robots were already in
motion. The drizzle grew harder. A desert coyote howled in the distance for the last
Loudspeaker voice: "Zero-hour minus 3 seconds."
Man 3: And just at that second arose from the bowels of the earth a light not of this world,
a light of many suns in one. Don't be upset if you hear no sound. We are 20 miles
away, and the sound travels much slower than light. It will be 100 seconds till we
hear it. It was a sunrise such as the world had never seen, a great green supersun,
climbing in a fraction of a second to a height of 8,000 feet, and then a great cloud
rose from the ground and followed the trail of the bright new sun. An enormous cloud
in the form of a mushroom, much taller than Mt. Everest. I glanced at my watch; 100
seconds were almost up.
Man 3: The sound of the explosion finally caught up with us. Out of the great silence came
a mighty thunder. It was the blast of thousands of blockbusters going off simultaneously
at one pinpoint. The thunder reverberated all through the desert, and bounced back
and forth in the Sierra Oscura mountains. The earth trembled beneath our feet like
an earthquake. And as I listened to this great thunder trying to escape from the trap
between the mountain ranges, I found myself asking again and again, "What has man
done to these two pieces of uranium, and how did it happen that this secret had been
given to us and not to our enemy?"