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Matt Weinstock

May 14, 2007 |  5:56 pm

Matt_weinstockd May 14, 1957

They are reluctant to say so publicly, but many men of science are extremely apprehensive about the continued testing of atomic bombs.

As scientists, they know what it means that a single present-day bomb has several hundred times the explosive power of the peanut we set off at Hiroshima. Furthermore, they know what it would do to great masses of people, even if laymen cannot comprehend such destruction.

But these learned men realize the free nations are committed to a policy of muscle flexing to impress Russia and, officially at least, the tests are considered necessary. Meanwhile, Russia keeps setting off its brand to impress us.

However, in private they talk and at a gathering a few nights ago a group of them got around to the statement of Dr. Linus Pauling that if the tests are continued 1,000 persons who wouldn't otherwise be affected will die of leukemia--and the rebuttal of a member of the Atomic Energy Commission that any increase in leukemia from radioactive fallout would be negligible.

One man at the gathering mused:

"If a nation announced it had perfected a new machine gun and would test it by lining 1,000 persons against a wall and shooting them down, the world would be horrified. yet there isn't much difference."

LITERARY PEOPLE are talking about J.D. Salinger's long story "Zooey" in the May 4 New Yorker--an overwhelmingly brilliant job.

Zooey is a former radio quiz kid who has the gift of seeing through things, separating sincerity from phoniness, detecting truth and discounting sham. He is also capable of wildly playful irrelevance.

Those who've read it agree that "Zooey" will kick up a fuss comparable to that of Shirley Jackson's controversial short story, "The Lottery."