The Opera That Chooses the Nuclear Option

By Matthew Gurewitsch [NY Times, 25 September 2005]

JULY 16, 1945. The gadget, as the scientists are calling it, has been hoisted up its tower. Gen. Leslie Groves, the Army commander of the Manhattan Project, is beating up on the weatherman. Thunderheads have materialized from nowhere, threatening to set off the blast too soon. “The test will proceed as scheduled,” Groves insists. “I demand a signed weather forecast. I warn you, if you are wrong, I will hang you.”

The test in question – code name, Trinity – is the detonation of the first atomic bomb. And no one knows how it will go: the atmosphere itself could catch fire, scorching the planet, singeing the blue from the sky.