Von Neumann as a Hawk

Quotes from Peter Byrne, The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III: Multiple Universes, Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family

p. 73-74 “And along with his fellow hydrogen bomb-engineers, Edward Teller and John Wheeler, von Neumann was certain that preparing to wage nuclear war was a historical necessity.

Life magazine recalled in his obituary:

After the Axis has been destroyed, von Neumann urged that the U.S. immediately build even more powerful atomic weapons and use them before the Soviets could develop nuclear weapons of their own. … A famous von Neumann observation at the time: ‘With the Russians it is not a question of whether but of when.’”

p. 74 “As powerful advocate for hydrogen bomb testing, von Neumann told Lewis Lichtenstein Straus, the head of the Atomic Energy Commission: ‘The present fear and vague talk regarding the adverse world-wide effects of general radioactive contamination are all geared to the concept that any general damage to life must be excluded.’”

p. 74 “Writing to Strauss in 1951, von Neumann revealed his Freudian side:

The preliminaries of war are to some extent a mutually self-exitatory process, where the action of either side stimulate the actions of the other side. … As the conflict’s ‘foreplay’ progresses, the original agression, and its motivation, become increasingly obscured. [I think] the US-USSR conflict will probably lead an armed ‘total’ collision, and that a maximum rate armament is therefore imperative.”

Ground Observer Corps

p. 44 “Like hundred of thousands of young people in the early 1950s, Nancy volunteered with the Ground Observer Corps, watching the skies for Russian bombers. Because radar systems could not track airplanes flying under 4,000 feet, volunteer clubs were tasked by civil defense agencies to monitor the night skies, especially in states that bordered oceans.  … Even prison inmates and Catholic monks meditating on mountaintops were recruited to watch the heavens for enemy aircraft.”

p. 44 “Non only was it technologically futile, but conventional sexual morals were, no doubt, tested as legions of young watchers stayed up all night, lying on their backs in the dark, staring at the starts.”

Logic of the Cold War

p. 281 “At the meeting, one of McNamara’s ‘Whiz Kids’, Alain Enthoven, claimed that increasing the American defense budget by $27 billion would reduce American lives lost from a Soviet first strike to 80 million from 115 million.”

Everett and Einstein

p. 25 Nancy about Everett: “This is a guy who at the tender age of 12 wrote a letter to Albert Einstein, and received a reply! I think his mom – K.K. may have influenced him [to write that letter]”.

p. 26 “Everett long lost letter to Albert Einstein apparently claimed to have solved the paradox of what happens when an irresistible force meet an immoveable object. Nance thought he had written it as a ‘hoax’, to see if he could fool the great man. Graciously, Einstein wrote back on June 11, 1943,

There is no such thing like an irresistible force and immoveable body. But there seems to be  a very stubborn boy who has forced his way victoriously through strange difficulties created by himself for this purpose.’”

Liz Everett in Many Worlds

p. 352 “Ten weeks later on July 11, in Hawaii, a few days after her 39th birthday, Liz succeed in killing herself with an overdose of sleeping pills.

She left a note, that read, in part:

‘Funeral requests: I prefer no church stuff. Please burn me and DON’T FILE ME(:. Please sprinkle me in some nice body of water … or the garbage, maybe that way I’ll end up in the correct parallel universe to meet up w/Daddy‘.”

Compare with

p. 347 “Nancy kept his [Hugh Everett III] ashes in an urn inside a filing cabinet in the dining room for a few years. Then, one day, in accordance with his express wishes, she tossed the cremains into a garbage can.”

Yet, the death of Liz seems to be unrelated to the Many World Theory. This is probably the consequence of her education at Everett’s house.

p. 339 “But Liz and Mark were largely unsupervised – allowed to drink, smoke dope, and have sex with friends at home. The were not chastised or put on restriction or given the limits that children need to learn who they are. … By her late teens, Liz was a full-blown mess. Manic-depressive, she turned to sex, alcohol, and a variety of drugs – from LSD and pot to cocaine and heroin – to kill the pain of being alive.”

Church against Everett

p. 385 “Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, faced with scientific claims like neo-Darwinism adn the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science, the Catholic Church will again defend human nature by proclaiming that the immanent design evident in nature is real.”

Christoph Schönborn, Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, 2005