J. Robert Oppenheimer “Now I am become death...”
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J. Robert Oppenheimer “Now I am become death...”

Interview Excerpt
2 min Word Count: 238

“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds." Part of “OPPENHEIMER: The Decision to Drop the Bomb” documentary interview.

There seemed to be two great views among scientists and no doubt would be among others if… people knew about it. On the one hand, they hoped that… this instrument would never be used in war and therefore they hoped that we would not start out by using it. On the other hand, they hoped, or other people hoped, that it would put an end to this war, save countless lives, put an end to a… butchery that had been going on for many years and had been marked by… atrocities, concentration camps, murderous raids on cities… Rotterdam and Dresden and Tokyo itself. And that on the whole, we were inclined to think that… if it was needed to put an end to the war and had a chance of so doing, we thought that was the right thing to do.

We knew the world would not be the same. Few people laughed. Few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the prince that he should do his duty and to impress him, takes on his multi armed form and says, now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. I suppose we all thought that one way or another.

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J. Robert Oppenheimer “Now I am become death...”:

NBC News

Name OPPENHEIMER: The Decision to Drop the Bomb (1965) (YouTube video)


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