Her diary’s open to this date, last year. It could be a leaf from another life, from another time. The woman she was then, perhaps even still the girl, is long gone: so has the world around her. That was before the bomb fell, and now, now that peace has returned, she and many others, the survivors, have to rebuild a home, for the children to come.
You are the most fatal chemical element found on earth, only preceded by plutonium, the byproduct (“waste”) of nuclear reactors. In nature you are mostly the stable isotope Uranium-238, but your brother, Uranium-235, is much sought after by the sorcerers of nuclear fission since it “only” requires low-energy neutrons to trigger the chain reaction.
Nuclear Fission was discovered in 1938, on the threshold of WWII, by German scientists. The discovery was one of the outcomes of a series of findings, both experimental (observations and measurements of interactions of sub-atomic particles) and theoretical (Quantum Mechanics), in nuclear physics, particularly the discovery of the neutron by James Chadwick in 1932. Artificial fission, as opposed to natural radioactive decay, and as obtained in nuclear reactors, or in nuclear explosives (atomic bombs), is the result of the bombardment of heavy elements by neutrons, which “transmute” the target element releasing enormous energy (E=mc2). The physics of fission is relatively “simple” and well understood by physicists, but the control and engineering of its applications far more complicated. Following the discovery of fission, fear that Nazi Germany could develop an atomic bomb prompted the Allies (USA, Canada and Britain) to launch their own program: the Manhattan project, led by Major General Leslie Groves, scientific Director J. Robert Oppenheimer (“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”). Finally bombs were built, tested, and dropped on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, at the very end of the WWII.
Later research led to the thermonuclear bomb (the “H” bomb), which is an application of nuclear fission and fusion of light elements (such as deuterium), triggered by a plutonium bomb.
In 1983, thirty years after the development of the extension of Quantum Mechanics named Quantum Electrodynamics, Richard Feynman declared:
“We physicists are always checking to see if there is something the matter with the theory. That’s the game, because if there is something the matter, it’s interesting! But so far, we have found nothing wrong with the theory of quantum electrodynamics. It is, therefore, I would say. The jewel of our physics – our proudest possession.”
“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” I suppose we all thought that one way or another.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer
She stood still, as if she was frozen, her huge grey body among grey rocks, one of the most formidable fighters in the whole universe.
Before she died her sister had helped her bury their eggs deep, so deep, in the planet’s core: nothing bar total annihilation could now reach them, their future, their eternity: she knew one day, far down in the flows of time, her descendants would rise again, supreme in the immensity of space.
Now she could sense them, a host of dark vessels, full of the hideous creatures, the plague of all sentient beings, evil incarnated, approaching, though they would not reach the trap for several days.
She was dreaming, of happier days with her sisters, and Mother, who begot them all, fierce and beautiful: she was pride of their achievements, before and after the humans had succombed to the devils, still longing for that time, before the fall, when giant spiders and humans had worked together, here, on this world.
But mankind had left her a priceless legacy, and she gently caressed the small pentagon: that that would unleash the megatons once the devil armies had surrounded her, her ultimate sacrifice, her pride: she would release the fires of a million hells on the devils, once and for all ridding the universe of the plague.