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Environment

Art Imitates Life

January 18, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 3

Your article about finding the uranium cube that suggests a solution to Werner Heisenberg’s nuclear power experiments (C&EN, Oct. 5, 2015, page 30) struck me strongly because I had just attended a production of Michael Frayn’s play “Copenhagen.”

The play imaginatively re-creates a real meeting between Heisenberg and Niels Bohr in 1941. It delves into the question of just how Heisenberg managed the Nazi atomic energy program—and whether he was really trying to achieve a bomb or not. It uses Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle as a metaphor for the lack of answers to those questions. I highly recommend the play to anyone interested in the history of that period!

Your article strongly suggests that Heisenberg’s postwar claim that he was trying to do science rather than bomb-making may have been more correct than not—within the limits of uncertainty, of course.

James N. Cawse
Pittsfield, Mass.

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