Regarding Thomas Jonter’s article “Getting rid of the Swedish bomb” (Physics Today, September 2019, page 40), I have a comment. Everyone in the world who might be considering building or using the atomic bomb should have as required reading the novel titled Alas, Babylon (1959) by Pat Frank. Although the story is fictional, it is not too far from what the ugly truth would be if means of mass destruction, such as the bomb, were to be used as weapons of war.
The book clearly approximates what things would be like if an accident involving nuclear weapons should ever happen. The only solution would seem to be that all nations simultaneously agree to stop production of such weapons and dispose of any that they have. Otherwise, a freak accident like the one depicted in Alas, Babylon could become a terrible reality.
I am 90 years old and don’t have too much time left, so perhaps I should not worry about such a situation. However, I do have family members who will be around for many more years. I can only hope that they will not be faced with a terrible happening such as a nuclear war.
[Editors’ note: Alas, Babylon is out of print but still available through used-book sellers and as an ebook. It was mentioned briefly in a review of The Trinity Paradox (Physics Today, May 1992, page 64).]