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Mark Oliphant’s adventures in atomic wonderland

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journal contribution
posted on 2010-12-15, 00:00 authored by Kathryn KeebleKathryn Keeble
Australian physicist Mark Oliphant came to hold two oppositional views, both pro and anti nuclear weapons research. This, together with the dimensions of his ‘larger than life’ personality, impacted on his scientific reputation in the fall-out of Australia’s ‘McCarthyism’. Despite his bullying the Americans into funding the A-Bomb project, the atomic juggernaut unleashed on the world caused Oliphant to rethink his role as a scientist. Oliphant clashed with American hegemony and the Menzies Government’s duplication of the ‘Reds under the Bed’ paranoia in Australia in the 1950s. His outspokenness on the danger of nuclear proliferation found him out of step with the changed political climate of the Cold War. Drawing on neglected archival material and using a Brechtian theatrical mode, my play Ion Man’s Adventures in Atomic Wonderland investigates the tragic dimensions of a man who never fully understood, as Thomas Kuhn explained (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), that scientific research is determined as much by politics and ideology as by the desire to understand the world.

History

Journal

Double dialogues

Volume

13

Issue

Summer 2010

Pagination

1 - 11

Publisher

Double Dialogues

Location

Canterbury, Vic.

ISSN

1447-9591

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2010, Double Dialogues

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