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From security blanket to security risk: scientists in the decade after Hiroshima

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Aside from a number of early prophesies of abundant and cheap nuclear power, and increased supplies of isotopes for medical research, diagnosis and therapy, visions of the Atomic Age were overwhelmingly troublesome in the aftermath of Hiroshima. Not only did nuclear Armageddon seem likely to many observers, the steps taken to enhance national security in the United States cast classes of citizens into the doleful category of "security risk." Scientists were among those feared--a stunning (and almost instantaneous) change from their perception in August 1945 as the nuclear wizards who brought World War II to an end. National security was the dominant factor in this transformation, but there were nuances to it. This article attempts a taxonomy of the ways in which scientists were viewed in the United States.

Keywords: Images of scientists; McCarthyism; National security state; Red scare; Science and politics

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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