I suppose you could even have kept the same title. We certainly are seeing some things very immediately on that. Well, people must remember your extraordinary interview with Dr. Oppenheimer, and that program on atomic energy which included the interview with Admiral Rickover. Now, without knowing anything about this except as a kibitzer, I assume it takes enormous preparation, a great staff of technicians, great cost. Would you tell us a little what it means to put on –
Well sir, it takes not only preparation and cost, but also I think a degree of flexibility. You mentioned the interview with Professor Oppenheimer. I went down to the Institute for Advanced Studies with my colleague determined to do the impossible – namely to do a television program on the Institute as such.
We shot a fair amount of film, and as you know, down there every time you open a door you encounter a Nobel Prize winner. Most of them I was unable to understand, and I was becoming very discouraged.
Went in and sat down with Professor Oppenheimer with no advance warning, no submission of questions in advance. We sat and talked for an hour, came back and developed the film, and decided that there we had it, rather than attempting to do the entire Institute.
You mentioned the program on peace-time uses of atomic energy. There we learned a lesson because in our ignorance and inexperience we thought we would really use this television medium. So we shot I think it was 2,800 coal cars in a single switching yard. And then we shot a film of a simulated block of enriched uranium alongside a typewriter to give the comparative size. This uranium was equivalent in fission power of the power of the 2,800 coal cars. And we thought, “Now this will really demonstrate it,” you see.
Immediately afterwards we did a ten-minute interview with Admiral Hyman Rickover. And as nearly as we could discover, no one really saw our coal cars or our little block of simulated uranium. Admiral Rickover – yes, they remembered for the simple reason that here was a man who: 1) knew what he was talking about; 2) had a fire in his belly about it; and 3) was able to communicate. And I think one thing, at least, we have learned out of television, and that is that there is no substitute for a good picture of a man who is talking with conviction and with knowledge of his subject.