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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Roald Sagdeev, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


R. Z. Sagdeev (Sagdeyev) is a plasma physicist who served as Science Adviser to Soviet President Gorbachev, and as Director of the Space Research Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences. After recalling his first awareness of the dawning of the nuclear age he describes the famous physicist Igor Kurchatov, including his relationship with Stalin, and he touches on aspects of the environment surrounding Soviet physics during that period. He remembers being relieved to hear about the Soviet nuclear test and tends to discount the role of espionage in the process. He closes with a brief comment on nuclear inspections.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
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Interview with Roald Sagdeev, 1986

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

Amid the violence, fear and desperation of World War II, nuclear weapons are created and used for the first time.

“Dawn” traces the development of the first atomic bomb, from 1932 with the ominous rumblings that led to World War II and the ground-breaking scientific experiments that led to the bomb. Atomic physicist Victor Weisskopf explains, “we did not think at all that this business would have any direct connection with politics, or with humanity.” The frantic rush by American scientists who feared the Nazis were ahead of them and the first nuclear explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945 are described by eyewitnesses. Physicist Philip Morrison was ten miles away from the blast and will never forget the heat on his face. “Dawn” concludes with the failure of the first attempts to reach agreement on international control of atomic weapons after the war.



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Raw video

Media Type


Hydrogen bomb
Hiroshima-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Kurchatov, I. V. (Igor Vasil'evich), 1903-1960
Bohr, Niels, 1885-1962
Born, Max, 1882-1970
Gorbachev, Mikhail
Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953
Nuclear weapons
Nuclear energy
Soviet Union
Unites States
Landau, L. D. (Lev Davidovich), 1908-1968
Nagasaki-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
World War II
Moscow, Russia
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Sagdeev, R. Z. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Roald Sagdeev, 1986,” 03/25/1986, GBH Archives, accessed July 23, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Roald Sagdeev, 1986.” 03/25/1986. GBH Archives. Web. July 23, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Roald Sagdeev, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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