George Dyson on nuclear weapon scientists

In the current issue of Make, George Dyson wrote a piece called "Strange Love: or, how they learned to start worrying and love to hate the bomb." Here's a link to a PDF of the full article.

Physicists love explosions. We owe our
nuclear predicament to a quirk of human nature:
designing, making, and testing nuclear explosives
can be fun. "The sin of the physicists at Los Alamos
did not lie in their having built a lethal weapon,"
physicist Freeman Dyson (my father) has explained.
"They did not just build the bomb. They enjoyed
building it. They had the best time of their lives
building it. That, I believe, is what Oppenheimer had
in mind when he said that they had sinned."
Eight years ago, I began interviewing retired (and
semi-retired) nuclear weaponeers who had worked
on Project Orion — the technically promising but
politically unacceptable effort, begun in 1957, to build
an interplanetary spaceship propelled by nuclear
bombs. The project's leader, physicist Theodore B.
Taylor (1925-2004), exemplified the conflict between
love of explosions and fear of the results.

"I was given a chemistry set when I was 7 or 8
and that rapidly turned into a laboratory for making
explosives, with one restriction set down by my
mother: never, never under any circumstances was
I allowed to make nitroglycerine," said Taylor. "So I
didn't." He experimented with more explosive and
less stable alternatives instead. "I was fascinated by
explosions. I still am. Without any attraction to the
damage. I hated to just fiddle around. I wanted to go
to extremes."

Taylor promised his mother, in the aftermath of
Hiroshima, that he would never work on nuclear
weapons, but the temptation proved impossible
to resist. After an unsuccessful first attempt at a
Ph.D., Taylor with his wife, Caro, and four-month-old
Clare, drove their 1941 Buick to Los Alamos from
Berkeley in November of 1949. "Within 24 hours of
our arrival at Los Alamos, I was deeply immersed in
the nuclear weapons program. Within a week, I was
hooked on understanding what went on at these
enormously high energy densities, clear off any
human scale."