THE ATOM: The Road Beyond Elugelab

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Scientific pundits, aided by some technical advice from uncensored Europe, took up the stark facts where Strauss left off. Their educated guesses: 1) Last month's two thermonuclear tests may have proved that H-bombs can be "manufactured far more simply than previously believed (see SCIENCE).

2) U.S. samplings (upper air readings, seismographic recordings, etc.) indicate that the Russians made this discovery seven months before the U.S. did.

3) The discovery means that any nation with a small supply of A-bombs may soon be able to use each A-bomb as a trigger for a thermonuclear bomb, thus easily and inexpensively multiplying the power of each A-bomb a thousandfold.

4) The U.S. still has a big lead in quantity of atomic explosive and its Air Force has a better chance than the enemy's of getting weapons on target. But this superiority soon will be reduced in effect because the inferior power may be able to cripple the superior one. Both might be smashed, but neither has any sure or even probable defense against the other.

The Hand Wringers. There it was—long forecast in rumor and speculation, but now clearly defined. What was mankind to think or say about it? The first and loudest reactions were not necessarily the wisest—nor were they typical.

¶ In Britain's House of Commons, 130 Laborites impulsively signed a petition asking the government "to take the initiative in every form they consider advisable in order to prevent the explosion of any further thermonuclear bombs." CALL OFF THAT BOMB, cried the hysterical wing of the British press.

¶ In India's Parliament, Prime Minister Nehru called for an end to H-bomb tests, and tried to drum up Asian racism by noting that most atomic damage had been wreaked on Asians.

¶ In Chicago, Editor Eugene Rabino-witch of the influential (among scientists) Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists wrote in his editorial for the May issue: "Atomic retaliation has become something no sane person should ever consider as a rational answer to any political or military situation (short of direct Soviet aggression against the U.S. or Western Europe—if then)."

¶ In a letter to the New York Times, Author-Critic Lewis (The Condition of Man) Mumford wrote: "Submission to Communist totalitarianism would still be far wiser than the final destruction of civilization . . . Let us cease all further experiments with even more horrifying weapons of destruction, lest our own self-induced fears further upset our mental balance . . . Let us deal with our own massive sins and errors . . . and have the courage to speak up ... against the methodology of barbarism to which we are now committed. If as a nation we have become mad, it is time for the world to take note of that madness."

Who Is Wildly Wrong? Emotional reaction along these lines was sharply opposed to the reaction of the U.S. Government, which knew a year and a half ago most of the facts that the public learned last week about the H-bomb. The Government, working with these facts, did not recoil in horror and abandon the new weapon. Instead, it built upon its H-bomb knowledge the Dulles policy of possible "massive retaliation" against further Communist acts of aggression.

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