4 inventors who regretted their creations (and who are behind the most lethal weapons in history) | International | News

Some of the geniuses behind those fearsome finds have ended up tormented by their conscience.

Inventing something unique and changing the course of human history must be one of the most satisfying feelings that can exist.

It is a matter of imagining the complacency of those who were behind such brilliant creations as the wheel, concrete, the steam engine or the internet.

However, not all inventions are exclusively for the benefit of the world; there are some who, to tell the truth, have left a tragic and macabre balance.

And some of the geniuses behind those fearsome finds have ended up haunted by their consciences.

Here we tell you the stories of four of them who, many times without measuring the destructive power of their creations, ended up spawning some of the most lethal weapons in history.

1. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb”:

There was no other scientist more closely linked to the creation and use of atomic bombs during World War II than Robert Oppenheimer.

The American theoretical physicist was the director of the Manhattan Project, who managed to develop the first atomic bomb in history.

Robert Oppenheimer was the scientific director of the Manhattan Project. GETTY IMAGES

It was detonated in the New Mexico desert – in an operation called “Trinity” – on July 16, 1945, less than a month before the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in Japan, where it is estimated that they died between 150,000 and 250,000 people.

Oppenheimer, a complex and charismatic figure, had devoted himself to studying the energetic processes of subatomic particles, including electrons, positrons, and cosmic rays.

But the warlike conflict that was being lived in those years in the world made his professional life take another course.

So, after Albert Einstein send a letter to the then president of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, warning him of the danger that threatened all of humanity if the Nazis became the first to make an atomic bomb, the idea of ​​creating a nuclear weapon at the government level in the United States it became a priority.

And who led that process was, precisely, Oppenheimer. He quickly began to search for a process for the separation of uranium-235 from natural uranium and to determine the critical mass necessary to make such a bomb.

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Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer. GETTY IMAGES

Among other things, he was instructed to establish and manage a laboratory to carry out this task. And, in 1943, he chose the plateau of Poplars, in New Mexico.

“Oppenheimer held a position of immense responsibility and was pushed to the limit,” the historian specialist in nuclear weapons explains to BBC Mundo. Alex Wellerstein.

“He was involved in key decisions about the design of the atomic bombs, and he was personally involved in the decisions about how these bombs would be used; he urged that they be used against cities and he was on the committee that made decisions about where exactly the bombs would be dropped, ”he adds.

But later, Oppenheimer would repeatedly express regret over the passing of the thousands of victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Even two months after the bomb blast, he resigned from his post. From 1947 to 1952 he was an advisor to the United States Atomic Energy Commission, from where he advocated for the international control of nuclear power to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to stop the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union.

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Aerial view of Hiroshima, Japan, shortly after the atomic bomb exploded. GETTY IMAGES

In addition, he strongly opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb.

But his efforts were unsuccessful. Due to his controversial public statements – joined by several enemies – his security credentials were withdrawn and his political influence was eventually stripped away.

“In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Oppenheimer was quite bitter and regretted many things. The area of ​​his regret has always centered on these postwar failures. He regretted that he had not succeeded in his arms control ambitions and that he had been unable to stop the growth of large arsenals of several megatons. “says Wellerstein.

After the explosion of the bombs, Oppenheimer would declare that the words of the Hindu holy text Bhagavad Gita came to mind: “Now I have become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

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Oppenheimer with Leslie Groves, high command in charge of the Manhattan Project for the development of the atomic bomb. GETTY IMAGES

Many historians have interpreted these words as a feeling of guilt about his deadly creation. For others, like Wellerstein, it has more to do with astonishment at something “beyond this world”, such as nuclear weapons.

Still, Oppenheimer will always be remembered (and known) as the “Father of the atomic bomb.”

2. Arthur Galston and Agent Orange:

American plant biologist and physiologist Arthur Galston never thought he was creating something that could be used as a weapon: the Orange agent.

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Arthur Galston never thought he was creating something that could be used as a weapon: Agent Orange. COURTESY OF YALE UNIVERSITY

His area of ​​study focused on plant hormones and the effects of light on plant development.

That’s where he was when he experimented with a plant growth regulator, called triiodobenzoic acid (TIBA). The scientist discovered that this component could stimulate the flowering of soybeans and make them grow faster.

However, he also warned that if applied excessively, the compound would cause the plant to lose its leaves.

But Galston’s findings were not limited to the plant world alone.

In the context of Vietman war —Occurred between the years 1955 and 1975— other scientists used them to create Agent Orange, a powerful herbicide that aimed to eliminate forests and crops that could be used by the Vietcong guerrilla.

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US troops released approximately 20 million gallons of Agent Orange to destroy crops in Vietnam. GETTY IMAGES

Thus, from 1962 to 1970 US troops released approximately 20 million gallons of the herbicide to destroy crops and expose the positions and routes of movement of your enemies.

Galston was deeply affected by this and repeatedly alerted authorities and the world to the enormous environmental damage that Agent Orange was causing. Then he charged that the herbicide also posed a risk to humans.

The most dangerous component of Agent Orange is the dioxin, a pollutant that can remain in the environment for decades and that, among other things, can cause cancer, malformations in fetal development, infertility problems and attack the nervous and immune systems.

Warnings from Galston and other scientists prompted the US government to order a toxicology study. In light of the results, the president at the time, Richard Nixon, ordered the arrest agent orange fumigation.

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Agent Orange caused serious damage to the health of those affected and problems in fetal development, such as malformations, in many children. GETTY IMAGES

Later, the plant biologist would say: “I used to think that one could avoid getting involved in the antisocial consequences of science simply by not working on any project that could have evil or destructive ends. I have learned that things are not so simple and thatwhether any scientific finding can be perverted or deform under social pressure ”.

He also claimed that Agent Orange was “a misuse of science.”

“Science is destined to improve the lot of humanity, not to diminish it, and its use as a military weapon seemed inadvisable to me,” he added.

3. Mikhail Kalashnikov, creator of the AK-47 rifle:

He was the designer of one of the most recognized weapons on the planet: the semi-automatic rifle AK-47.

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Shortly before his death, Mikhail Kalashnikov confessed that he had “excruciating spiritual pain.” GETTY IMAGES

In 1947, the Russian Mikhail Kalashnikov created this simple, robust and reliable rifle that became the weapon of rigor of the Soviet and Russian armies, as well as dozens of other countries.

The AK-47 was also a symbol of revolution around the world; was in action on the battlefields of Angola, Vietnam, Algeria and Afghanistan. He was also a companion of rebel armies in Latin America, such as the FARC and ELN in Colombia.

Palestinian groups used it frequently and there is a famous photo of Osama bin Laden flaunting the rifle with its characteristic curved magazine.

The relative simplicity of the design made it cheap to manufacture and easy to maintain on the battlefield. It became the most widely used assault rifle in the world, and according to estimates, it racks up more deaths than atomic bombs.

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This photo of Osama bin Laden flaunting the rifle with its distinctive curved magazine went around the world. GETTY IMAGES

Although Mikhail Kalashnikov expressed few regrets over his deadly invention throughout his life – “I sleep soundly,” he once said – he confessed shortly before his death that he had a “Excruciating spiritual pain.”

In a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church he attended (which was leaked by Russian media a month after his death), he said he felt responsible for the millions of deaths caused by his revolutionary rifle.

“My spiritual pain is unbearable. I keep asking myself the same insoluble question. If my rifle deprived people of life, could it be that I … a Christian and an Orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths? “, he asked himself.

“The longer I live,” he wrote, “the more this question sticks in my head and the more I wonder why the Lord allowed man the diabolical desires of envy, greed and aggression.”

4. Alfred Nobel and dynamite:

In December 1896, two young Swedish engineers had the surprise of their lives when they opened the will of their admired Alfred Nobel, who left them in charge of using most of their fortune in order to create an entity to celebrate the advancement of humanity.

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Alfred Nobel created dynamite. GETTY IMAGES

Following the teacher’s instructions, Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist gave life to the Nobel Foundation, which established annual awards for merit in physics, chemistry, medicine and physiology, literature and world peace; to which in 1969 the economy was added.

This last wish of Nobel is not random and has a compelling reason behind it. It is said that, in the twilight of his days, he was tormented by the idea of ​​death and destruction that the application of his inventions had generated.

And that is why he decided to bequeath a large part of his fortune to the creation of the foundation.

Decades earlier, the Swedish chemist, engineer, writer and inventor had created the dynamite.

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GETTY IMAGES

Born into the bed of a family of engineers, Nobel worked with his father in the manufacture of explosives. But in 1864 he lived a tragic experience that marked his life, when his younger brother and four other people were killed in an explosion of nitroglycerine.

Two years later, in 1866, Nobel developed a method that allowed the unstable liquid explosive to be handled safely. To reduce its volatility, he mixed nitroglycerin with an absorbent porous material, thus creating dynamite.

This invention brought immense wealth and fame to its inventor, and ushered in a new era in construction … but also in destruction. Well, it did not take long for it to begin to be used for military purposes.

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The testament of Alfred Nobel. GETTY IMAGES

Thus, it was applied as an explosive filler in artillery shells and military demolition charges, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Nobel passed away on December 10, 1896 at his home in San Remo, Italy, having signed his final will that laid the foundations for what would become the most prestigious international award for the advancement of man. (I)

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4 inventors who regretted their creations (and who are behind the most lethal weapons in history) | International | News