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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Atomic Bombers

The evening of February 29, I very much enjoyed attending a University of Louisville Theatre Department production of "Atomic Bombers," written and directed by my colleague Russ Vandenbroucke:
The play, dramatizing the lives of the extraordinary team of international physicists racing to make an atomic bomb during World War II, will be performed Feb. 29-March 4 at 8 p.m. nightly plus a matinee at 3 p.m., March 4. All performances are at the Thrust Theatre, 2314 S. Floyd St.

Directed by Vandenbroucke, a theater professor, the play will be the third stage production of the play originating from an earlier short play by Vandenbroucke that was performed on stage and for public radio.

Before writing and producing the play, Vandenbroucke had to obtain permission from Richard Feynman, the eccentric American scientist and Nobel Prize winner whose essay in a science journal was his inspiration. Vandenbroucke even went as far as to engage the president of the California Institute of Technology, where Feynman taught, to aid his request.

Feynman agreed to Vandenbroucke’s proposal and the first play was based on the atomic bomb tests at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Vandenbroucke later expanded the play to include the initial work at the University of Chicago which was broadcast on public radio during the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

“It is a funny play about a very serious subject,” Vandenbroucke said. “This was the greatest gathering of scientific geniuses at one time and place for a single purpose. Only later did they realize the full extent of the horrible devastation that resulted.”
Those interested in the material should note that Russ has cooperated in producing a CD.

Anyone interested in how comedy can be employed for critique should check out this play.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:35 AM

    The first atomic bomber was the 2000-mile-target B-29, which had to be modified and positioned over a pit in order to load the five-foot-diameter Mk 3 A-bomb.
    Next was the first dedicated nuclear bomber competition between the Convair B-36 'Peacemaker' and the Northrop B-35 'Flying Wing', 4000-mile-target bombers. The toip priority mission was to destroy the USSR secret atomic-bomb-plants in the Ural Mountains. IN 1949 the US had 13 A-bombs stored in the US, and the target was 1000-miles across the Arctic, plus 3000 miles across the USSR. Escort fighters range was less than 1000 miles, so the A-bombers had to go unescorted. The uSSR had 19,000 fighters, plus new MiG-15 jet interceptors, guided by nine radar rings.
    The Convair B-36 had a huge radar signature, paintable more than 150 miles away. The Northrop Wing was radar invisible in 1949, demonstrated in several fly-bys at Half Moon Bay CGI radar site -- which the AF Generals chose to ignore, being either incompetent, ignorant, or biased.
    Who corrupted this military weapon purchase and why? It's is all in my book, Goodbye Beautiful Wing (Amazon), researched for 20 years from actual microfilmed government records of the R&D projects for these bombers, plus biographies and interviews.