Quantum Physics, Japanese Culture, and nuclear power are three of the topics that keep popping up in my life lately. Strange! But, also fascinating as I think it’s a good sign whenever similar themes appear repeatedly.
I recently read the books “A Tale For The Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki and “The Woman at Otowi Crossing,” by Frank Waters. And then, for Mother’s Day, my mom wanted to go see the original Godzilla, from 1954.
But, let me back up.
Knowing nothing about it, I bought “A Tale For The Time Being” because I liked its cover. And, as I was reading it, I began working part time on the WGN TV show “Manhattan,” which is based on the Manhattan Project. The book tells the story of two women, Ruth in the Pacific Northwest and Nao in Japan, whose lives are intertwined when Ruth finds Nao’s diary washed up on the beach, sometime after the 2011 Tsunami and nuclear disaster that followed. Without giving too much away, it broaches topics from Buddhism to Quantum Physics and shows how truly interconnected time and lives can be.
While working on “Manhattan,” I became fascinated with this top secret project, which took place in my backyard, literally changing the world forever. Los Alamos is a strange place and one that I’ve taken for granted for most of my life here. Situated less than an hour from both Santa Fe and Albuquerque, it is still home to Los Alamos National Labs, for which it became famous after developing the atomic bomb, used in Japan, to end WWII. As a child I knew it only for its outdoor ice rink, which was always a fun winter field trip. It is a town of gated entrances, official looking blue signs, and the highest per capita income in the country. It was only after watching actors portray scientists and hearing scripted lines spoken, that I realized I wanted to know more about this part of my state and its history.
Frank Waters novel, “The Woman At Otowi Crossing,” is “based on the real life of Edith Warner, who ran a tea room at Otowi Crossing, just below Los Alamos…” Like Ozeki’s book, it also deals with the interconnectedness of cultures and time.
As I was finishing Waters’ novel, Mother’s Day was approaching and I asked my mom what she would like to do. “Go see the original Godzilla in the theater,” she replied. The author George R.R. Martin, a local Santa Fean, recently bought and reopened the local art house cinema and Godzilla was that weekend’s treat. Having never seen it, I went in with all kinds of preconceived notions; B movie, monster movie, bad special effects, etc. I really knew nothing about it. Made in 1954, less than a decade after the bombs fell on Japan, it tells the story of a nuclear monster from the sea, terrorizing the Japanese public. Nothing will kill it. But, when a scientist comes up with a terrible solution, one that will stop Godzilla but could end life as we know it, the movie asks the question “when does the end justify the means and at what point are the means too horrible to justify?”
I was shocked by how great of a movie it was and was surprised by the questions it posed. It fit right into my theme.
I am now reading “American Prometheus- The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. I’m not sure why I’m being drawn to these topics, but for whatever reason I am.
Next up: Quantum Physics For Dummies!