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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Sergei Kapitsa, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Sergei Kapitsa was a Soviet physicist active after World War II, who became known for speaking out about the possibility of the nuclear winter as a result of nuclear war. He begins by recounting the early history of nuclear physics in Europe and the Soviet Union, noting that the rise of fascism and militarism led to a shutting down of international cooperation. He continues with a description of the Soviet nuclear science community and its reactions to world events and developments in the field during and after the war. Included are personal recollections of the noted scientists Igor Kurchatov and Gyorgy Flerov. He reflects at length on Niels Bohr's travels to the U.S. and England and his thinking on the significance of the bomb. He also touches on Soviet nuclear research as well as on "spymania" in the U.S. at the time.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Weapon of Choice, The
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Interview with Sergei Kapitsa, 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

The United States and the Soviet Union, former allies, become adversaries in a “Cold War,” and nuclear weapons become the weapon of choice for both sides.

From 1947 to 1953 the threat to use nuclear weapons became the principal currency of conflict. During the Korean War, Texas Congressman J. Frank Wilson said, “We are dealing with mad dogs ... we must treat them accordingly. I urge the atomic bomb be used if it can be used efficiently.” Against this background, President Harry Truman made crucial decisions that affected the history of the Nuclear Age. The United states deployed the B-36, a huge intercontinental bomber. It started mass production of atomic bombs. In 1952, the US exploded the first hydrogen bomb, a quantum leap in destructive force. Less than a year later, the Soviet Union exploded its own hydrogen bomb.



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Bohr, Niels, 1885-1962
Vernadskii, V. I. (Vladimir Ivanovich), 1863-1945
United States
Nuclear weapons
Nagasaki-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Churchill, Winston, 1874-1965
Hitler, Adolf, 1889-1945
Soviet Union
Hydrogen bomb
World War II
Nuclear fission
Flerov, G. N. (Georgii Nikolaevich), 1913-
Ioffe, A. F. (Abram Fedorovich), 1880-1960
Hiroshima-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Bohr, Aage
Great Britain
Kurchatov, I. V. (Igor Vasil'evich), 1903-1960
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Kapitsa, S. P. (SergeI Petrovich), 1928-2012 (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Sergei Kapitsa, 1986,” 04/03/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Sergei Kapitsa, 1986.” 04/03/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Sergei Kapitsa, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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