In the 1940s at Los Alamos in New Mexico, in great secrecy, he led the scientific effort that invented the atomic bomb. Afterward, as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission’s main advisory body, he helped direct the nation’s postwar nuclear developments.
Oppenheimer’s downfall came amid Cold War fears over Soviet strides in atomic weaponry and Communist subversion at home. In 1953, a former congressional aide charged in a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the celebrated physicist was a Soviet spy.
Troubled by the allegation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered “a blank wall” erected between Oppenheimer and any nuclear secrets.
No evidence came to light that supported the spy charge. But the security board found that Oppenheimer’s early views on the hydrogen bomb “had an adverse effect on recruitment of scientists and the progress of the scientific effort.” He died in 1967, at 62.
Experts who have looked at the declassified transcripts say they cast startling new light on the Oppenheimer case. Dr. Polenberg of Cornell, for example, expressed bewilderment that 12 pages of testimony from Lee A. DuBridge, a friend and colleague of Oppenheimer’s who discussed the atomic trade-offs and the European war situation, had remained secret for 60 years.
Progress in science rarely comes in the form of massive clear insight, but rather in small bits that may be useless by themselves but trigger new thinking. Claud Lovelace of Rutgers was something of an eccentric, but his work was important in establishing string theory (which may or may not be a useful description of Nature). A nice piece on a gentle man by Paul Halpern.
Speaking of the 14th century, here are some recipes for treatment of Bubonic plague. The difference with the completely nonsense about gravity, there is evidence for some informed thinking
In this treatise, Ibn Khatima was ahead of scientific discoveries of the 19th and 20th centuries, in relation to the theory of contagion and the need for isolation in case of infection, etc, and he comes close to the types of plagues that modern science considers in its classification, I mean, bubonic pest, pneumonic pest and septicemic pest.
Ibn Khatima speaks of "vapors infected by minuscule organisms" that invade the body, causing disease, and that are transmitted from one to another. And so, he emphasizes in the need for isolation in epidemics as a preamble to the modern theories of the epidemiology (10) and the bacteriological microbiology (11) (12).
Section V of the Tahsil is one of the most newfangled and interesting of the book. In this part, Ibn Khatima exposes his theories about the contagion. According to him, the pest is a very serious disease because it is infectious and contagious. The contact with the patient or any of his equipment and vestments is the main cause of infection, due to –as I said- minuscule bodies that are passed from one person to another through the air they breathe, although we must also consider the willingness of each one and his own defense, reaction and resistance system. Thus, according to Ibn Khatima, the alteration and corruption of air promote the disease and it spreads through contagion (13), and this is a very close thought to modern epidemiology.
It does go off the rails, but there are glimmers of the paths that led to science.
Last night's episode of Cosmos - The Clean Room - was excellent. If you haven't seen it try their streaming version.
For those interested in the history of the current obfuscation of science that stretches back to the 50s I recommend “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. They do a great job pointing out how the public’s misunderstanding of how science works has been and is being used to support pseudoscientific goals.