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Robert Furman

Robert Furman, stepfather to the atomic bomb.

Robert Furman‘s obituary in TIME magazine last month said, “To Furman, the ‘biggest miracle’ of the past 63 years was that no other atom bombs had been used. His fervent hope was for that to remain so.” This remark about the biggest miracle comes from a man perhaps as responsible for the development of the atomic bomb as anyone and there are many. After completing the construction of the Pentagon where he was a chief engineer, he transferred over with General Groves to the atom bomb project and became the chief of intelligence. Among other things he was put in charge of acquiring the German atomic bomb materials, and bringing them back to the US. He was in charge of the transfer of the atomic bomb to Tinian Island aboard the ship USS Indianapolis where he oversaw their departure to Hiroshima aboard the B-29 bomber Enola Gay. He departed the ship USS Indianapolis four days before the it was sunk by the Japanese. Some of the uranium he brought back from Germany may have ended up in the Hiroshima bomb. The point is that he was at the very center of the whole horrible thing, and when he speaks to this issue we should listen carefully. He said the non-use of the bomb was the biggest miracle of the past 63 years.

My blogs of the last couple of months may seem rather pessimistic, but when so central a figure to these problems as Robert Furman, independently and without my knowledge, agrees with me it tends to make me think I may not be so crazy after all. I had this opinion about the probable use of H-bombs way back in 1960 when I was assigned by the US Air Force to pilot B-47s, and I expressed that opinion so forcefully that I was offered a Medical Discharge on the grounds that I might be crazy, though instead I opted for a General Discharge on grounds of mutual incompatibility of goals. My decision to leave the Air Force has plagued me ever since. I was at the top of my class, and that fact has led directly to counterproductive behavior in my personal life. With a considerable expense of time and effort I have sought ways to prevent these bombs from being used or even created. But until the Internet brought the ability to publish without the need of outside publishers help, there didn’t seem to be a way to do it. Now there is and I have been exploring that possibility, but with very few blog hits just yet and no media coverage. Unfortunately, the ensuing half a century has seen the H-bomb problem grow to such proportions that the best options now seem to be variations on restoring the planet after the Doomsday events have run their course. This appears to be an unfortunate reality but it appears that the best we can do is to follow Taleb’s advice in his book The Black Swan. He suggests that with big problems like Doomsday, one should not try to predict the moment but rather prepare for the outcome. That is what you can do now by sending materials to the Antarctic gene barrel project.