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Oppenheimer: documents tracing the creation of the atomic bomb put up for auction

Documents tracing the invention of the atomic bomb, including a letter signed by Robert Oppenheimer, are being auctioned in the United States, at a time when the eponymous blockbuster is competing for the Oscars.

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Oppenheimer: documents tracing the creation of the atomic bomb put up for auction

Documents tracing the invention of the atomic bomb, including a letter signed by Robert Oppenheimer, are being auctioned in the United States, at a time when the eponymous blockbuster is competing for the Oscars. Christopher Nolan's portrait of the father of the atomic bomb has 13 Oscar nominations, and is almost guaranteed to win several awards on Sunday in Hollywood. The three-hour feature film traces the history of the arms race which led to this scientific invention which precipitated the end of the Second World War.

Among the goods put up for auction in Boston, a document tracing the secret creation, in the Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico, of the atomic bomb. Entitled the “Smyth report”, this text was presented to the press for the first time on August 12, 1945, a few days after the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which caused around 140,000 and 74,000 deaths respectively. “These documents provide an overview of the scientific and administrative journey which led to the creation of one of Humanity’s most formidable weapons,” indicates the auction house RR Auction House.

Among its signatories are Robert Oppenheimer, but also Enrico Fermi, famous for having created the first nuclear reactor, Ernest Lawrence, Nobel Prize winner and pioneer of the cyclotron particle accelerator or even James Chadwick who discovered the neutron, notes the house at auction. The current bid for this document was over $35,000 on Saturday. The sale is due to close on Wednesday. Another document for sale: a letter typed by Robert Oppenheimer in which he describes his invention as “a weapon for attackers”.

“The elements of surprise and terror are as intrinsic (to the bomb) as are the fissile cores,” he wrote to a journalist who worked on the Russian nuclear arsenal. “A letter of truly remarkable content, in which Oppenheimer demonstrates extraordinary foresight on the future use of the atomic bomb,” according to Bobby Livingston, vice-president of RR Auction. A bid of more than $4,000 was made for this document.

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