University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > The Scientific Reaction to Nuclear Weapons, 1945-53 or ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’

The Scientific Reaction to Nuclear Weapons, 1945-53 or ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’

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The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 have been seen as an iconic event marking a definitive end to one form of violent conflict and the beginning of a different era of brinkmanship, strategy and Cold War. The possibility of using such destructive force produced changes in the field of diplomacy and political interaction, but also raised moral questions of the physicists and chemists who had made the weapon a reality. This paper will therefore examine the reactions of the American and British scientists who had worked on the atomic bomb, and their proposals for how it should be contained, controlled and even disposed of now that it had been unleashed on the world. Once this is established, the paper will then discuss how a new field of mathematics, game theory, was utilised by politicians to dictate their next strategies and explain the apparent paradox of forcing peace by arming to the teeth.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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