Openheimer: The Movie. One person's observation.

MolaKule

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The Movie centered around the personality and life of Julius Robert Oppenheimer.

I went to see it to see how much of the actual physics of the atomic bomb would be disclosed. There are many flashbacks (done in black and white film) to set the stage for the overall background.

What I didn't see discussed was the spontaneous fission (SF) problem. Background: The first Abomb design was to be of the "Gun" design (Thin Man, Little Boy) where fissile plutonium pieces were to be fired toward each other. It was found that Pu239 (Plutonium 239) absorbs a neutron and converts to Plutonium 240 too soon and then sheds excess energy via the emission of a Gamma Ray. So the gun design could not move the necessary amount of critical mass fast enough down a tube toward each other to overcome this problem.

This was when the implosion device (Fat Man) was considered to be the only solution, a device with 32 explosive "lenses" to decrease the fissile material's volume very quickly. It was John von Neuman who solved the shock wave problem for the explosive lenses.

In spite of that, the assembly scene of the Fat Man bomb is very accurate. :cool:

Of course, the Little Man gun bomb, of uranium U235, was never tested before dropping because the lab had determined that a slug travelling at 1,000 fps would cause fission before it disintegrated.

Characters (I'll only mention some of the main characters as the cast was quite extensive):

Cillian Murphy did an excellent job as the chain smoking Oppenheimer (Oppie), showing his visionary approaches to science as well as his human frailties, and as the Scientific Director of the Manhattan Project.

Matt Damon as General Groves, did a tremendous job as the military director of the Manhattan Project. In the movie, Oppenheimer and Groves often clashed on how things should be done, but always came to an agreement with some comedy mixed-in. Groves trusted Oppie to get the job done. Oppie always kept Groves informed of any "hitches" within the project but always offered solutions for any problems, the mark of a good scientist. Both Groves and Oppenheimer had to fight the bureaucracy at times to accomplish their tasks.

David Krumholtz (of NUMB3RS fame) was I.I. Rabi (Robby), who seemed to play the alternate conscience of Oppenheimer, and his trusted advisor and friend. (BTW, it was Rabi's discovery of magnetic resonance that led to the invention of the MRI diagnostic machine). An excellent biography of Rabi was done by one of my former professors, John H, Rigden.

Ernest O Lawrence of the cyclotron "RAD lab" was well played by Josh Hartnett and often brought Opie back to reality.

Benny Safdie played the temperamental and often explosive Edward Teller, who later co-developed the H-bomb. But it was Teller who showed that the implosion device could only be successful by using a U238 tamper plug.

The latter part of the movie appeared to portray Oppie as a martyr because of his association with people in the Communist Party (guilt by association) and by various committees. Both Einstein and others told him not to appear before those committees and to tell the committees to go..... themselves, but he felt he had to uphold his reputation and decided to fight them. In the end, he lost his security clearance due to underhanded actions designed by Lewis Strauss (struss), played by Robert Downey Jr.

This movie is definitely NOT a movie for non-adults as Florence Pugh (who played Jean Tatlock, Opie's communist girlfriend), and Oppie have some rather "disclosing moments."

I think Christopher Nolan did an excellent job showing Oppies character, the sense of the times, and presenting some scientific information.

BTW, the patent on the implosion device and its construction process has never been disclosed and is still classified as secret.

In my personal Opinion, Julius Robert Oppenheimer should have been awarded the Nobel prize for his work in stellar gravitation, and the Atomic bomb at the least. It's unfortunate that at times we punish our heroes instead of rewarding them.
 
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One major secret of the Manhattan Project is that in the summer of 1945, we only had two bombs ready to drop. Since Japan didn't know that, dropping those two a few days apart convinced them we are about to nuke their whole country. The end-game of WWII also depended on USSR fearing the US may hit them with nukes if they don't cooperate.

It would have taken months to produce enough highly enriched uranium or plutonium to build another bomb.
 
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My girlfriend and I saw it in IMAX yesterday. I thought it was a phenomenal movie. 3 hours flew by, there wasn't a single time I found myself wondering what time it was.

I highly encourage every (adult) here to go see the film. It was one of those movies that was so good, the audience was silent during the credits. No clapping, no nothing. Just quiet, single file exit with whispers.
 
A few things. I remember looking at an encyclopedia entry on Little Boy and it claimed that the construction was of a small uranium projectile hitting a larger uranium target through a tube. Of course that was mostly speculation as the design hadn't been actually disclosed publicly until maybe the 1990s. The real design was of a large, hollowed projectile that slammed into a smaller target.

Little_Boy_Internal_Components.png

A former coworker previously worked at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, including at the end of Frank Oppenheimer's tenure as director, which ended when Frank died of lung cancer. My coworker said that he was the only person allowed to smoke there, and also the only one allowed to bring his dog to work.
 
My girlfriend and I saw it in IMAX yesterday. I thought it was a phenomenal movie. 3 hours flew by, there wasn't a single time I found myself wondering what time it was.

I highly encourage every (adult) here to go see the film. It was one of those movies that was so good, the audience was silent during the credits. No clapping, no nothing. Just quiet, single file exit with whispers.
And some of the explosion scenes of the Trinity test were from the actual color films used in the test.
 
One major secret of the Manhattan Project is that in the summer of 1945, we only had two bombs ready to drop. Since Japan didn't know that, dropping those two a few days apart convinced them we are about to nuke their whole country. The end-game of WWII also depended on USSR fearing the US may hit them with nukes if they don't cooperate.

It would have taken months to produce enough highly enriched uranium or plutonium to build another bomb.

I thought there was another bomb on the way and it would have been dropped in October of 1945?
 
A few things. I remember looking at an encyclopedia entry on Little Boy and it claimed that the construction was of a small uranium projectile hitting a larger uranium target through a tube. Of course that was mostly speculation as the design hadn't been actually disclosed publicly until maybe the 1990s. The real design was of a large, hollowed projectile that slammed into a smaller target.

Little_Boy_Internal_Components.png

A former coworker previously worked at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, including at the end of Frank Oppenheimer's tenure as director, which ended when Frank died of lung cancer. My coworker said that he was the only person allowed to smoke there, and also the only one allowed to bring his dog to work.
Yes, thanks I saw the error just before you and Jeffry made the comment, but he never went by Julius, only Robert.
 
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I thought there was another bomb on the way and it would have been dropped in October of 1945?
Google "Demon core". The next bomb would have been ready for delivery August 17th or 18th. It was scrubbed when the Japanese indicated a willingness to surrender.
Reminds me of a rather insensitive T-shirt some folks wore. On the front was the question "Why did America drop two atom bombs on Japan?" On the back was a mushroom cloud and the answer "Because we didn't have three."
 
Google "Demon core". The next bomb would have been ready for delivery August 17th or 18th. It was scrubbed when the Japanese indicated a willingness to surrender.
Reminds me of a rather insensitive T-shirt some folks wore. On the front was the question "Why did America drop two atom bombs on Japan?" On the back was a mushroom cloud and the answer "Because we didn't have three."

If Japan did not Surrender, we would have kept dropping Atomic Bombs until the planned Invasion of the Japanese Mainland in October of 1946. I think we lost between 5000 and 10,000 U.S. Troops during the Invasion of Okinawa.

Estimates of U.S. Troop losses in a full scale Invasion of Japan would have been about 500,000 to 1 Million.
 
Here's some interesting discussion on the set locations in Oppenheimer that were in and around Berkeley.


I easily recognized Edwards Stadium, but that substituted for the football stadium at the University of Chicago. Not sure how they got this done as the seating on that side is modern anodized aluminum in a gold color in the center, but it could just be the time of the day and the angle. It certainly doesn't look like it from some stills. But the Edwards Stadium sign is outside the shot.

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Edwards_Stadium_v1_mp4_00_00_08_07_Still001.jpg


Edwards_Stadium_v1_mp4_00_00_37_11_Still002.jpg


Before the movie came out, this Sports Illustrated reporter thought that maybe it featured as Oppenheimer on the UC Berkeley campus.

 
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