How Bohr Could Defend his Actions at Los Alamos

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Bohr, a Nobel Prize award winner in the Physics category, is one character that has gained attention due to Michael Frayn’s fiction. The fiction paints Bohr as an innocent human being who does not contribute to killing more than hundreds of thousands of people. The fiction depicts Bohr as an individual who contributes to the making of the bomb because of a fear that is instilled in him. He is shown as a moral authority in the fiction. However, Heisenberg, who does not contribute to the making of the Los Alamos bomb, is criticized as seen as the greatest contributor to the killing of people with the use of a bomb. He is seen as an individual whose morals are jeopardized, and as the fiction by Michael says, he didn’t contribute to the making of the bomb because he was trying to sabotage the thesis of the bomb.
In the fiction, Bohr claims that “Hands which had actually built the bomb would not touch mine.” However, his hands end up being the ones that made the greatest contribution to the bomb-making process. It is said that Bohr made the very heart part of the Los Alamos gadget (bomb). He had previously made claims on how he never took in the creation of the bomb, stating that the Los Alamos bomb makers did not need his help. However, being not needed doesn’t mean that one did not contribute to something. Your help might not be needed, but your contribution is still present.
As the secrecy of the Los Alamos bomb creation unveils, a report that was released regarding the making of the Los Alamos bomb makes a claim that Bohr made essential steps to ensure that a perfect bomb was created. He criticizes what had been made and the approach had been used in making it and makes recommendations on better methods of approaching the bomb assembly. With all this proof at hand about his contributions, it is hard for Bohr to defend himself with claims that he never contributed to the bomb-making process. There is even paper evidence that proves him guilty of taking part in the creation of the most dangerous bomb to ever been made. However, there are a few claims that Bohr can use to let himself off the hook with contribution allegations.
For a start, Bohr can say that, despite contributing to the making of the Los Alamos, he had tried his best to communicate with the leaders, Churchill and Roosevelt, who would have stopped the bombing from the bomb he was creating from happening. However, the leaders did not listen to him probably because he was not a good verbal communicator. This would mean that Bohr had taken a moral role of warning the leaders on the upcoming weapon race that would wipe out people using the Los Alamos bomb. This would give him a point of defense because serving a warning and people choose to ignore your warning simply because you cannot appeal to them makes the consequences of anything that follows their own burden and not his.
Second, Bohr can claim that, based on the reports written by people that were meant to keep him safe, he could not concentrate while making the Los Alamos. Making a bomb requires a lot of concentration to ensure that everything is placed in the right place so that the intention of the bomb is achieved. Well, the reports of the people who were supposed to ensure the safety of Bohr reported that Bohr was seen to be absent-minded and was crossing roads like he was walking in the woods. Meaning he did not have a sense of safety or the right concentration needed in making the Los Alamos. This would make sense before the judges as they all know that an individual whose concentration levels are low can’t contribute to making a weapon that was meant for mass destruction. It is impossible to hire an individual with mental issues while youths could concentrate for more hours and have a sense of safety in their minds.
Third, Bohr could claim that he was open enough with the people on what was on the way and influenced the decisions of scientists by asking them to think of the consequences of their actions. Despite taking part in the creation of the Los Alamos bomb, Bohr was open enough and took a moral obligation of ensuring that people who could help in easing the war had the needed information on what was going to happen. Additionally, by taking a moral obligation, Bohr encouraged scientists to take responsibility and think of the consequences of every action they want to undertake. By taking a stand and claiming that he was open enough and held a moral obligation in the creation of the Los Alamos, Bohr can be able to defend himself. Well, by being open and holding a moral obligation, you’re able to stand on your truths and the truths of the court of justice and even before the people.


Posner, Michael. “The Uncertainty about Heisenberg.” Queen’s Quarterly 110, no. 1 (2003): 87-93.
“What Did Bohr Do at Los Alamos?” Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog. Last modified May 11, 2015.

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