…Then All Men Would Ride

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“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, Anything your heart desires will come to you…”  Those are the first lines from the Disney song that has somewhat been their motto from the time I was a kid.

Oh, how I wish I could believe those words in their entirety!  As much as I wish I could, I can’t.  I wish my dad could be here again for even just a few minutes…but he’s gone.  I wish I could reverse certain misfortunes from the past, but I can’t.  I wish that hunger and poverty would end.  I wish that suffering were banished from the universe forever.

As adults we learn that wishing is far different from “happening”.

That’s not to say that wishing is a bad thing.  I think it is powerful…wishing is a way, perhaps, of hoping against hope, of holding on to that small ray of hope, of light, that keeps us from falling into deep darkness.

There is another saying: If wishes were horses then all men would ride.  Now that’s one that I think is probably true.  We all hope, we wish, for the best.  We won’t always get it, those elusive, fleeting dream-wishes, but we can’t stop wishing.  Some of the greatest advances in human history were made because people had dreams that often fed upon wishes: a scientist who finds a way to prevent a disease because they witnessed a family member or a friend suffer with that illness and they wished it could be eradicate.  Wishes and dreams are closely related, I think, and they are powerful allies in this thing called human existence.

Today’s photo was shot in a store in Mendocino, CA.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On this day in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project came to an explosive end as the first atom bomb was successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Plans for the creation of a uranium bomb by the Allies were established as early as 1939, when Italian emigre physicist Enrico Fermi met with U.S. Navy department officials at Columbia University to discuss the use of fissionable materials for military purposes. That same year, Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin Rooseveltsupporting the theory that an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction had great potential as a basis for a weapon of mass destruction. In February 1940, the federal government granted a total of $6,000 for research. But in early 1942, with the United States now at war with the Axis powers, and fear mounting that Germany was working on its own uranium bomb, the War Department took a more active interest, and limits on resources for the project were removed.

Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves, himself an engineer, was now in complete charge of a project to assemble the greatest minds in science and discover how to harness the power of the atom as a means of bringing the war to a decisive end. The Manhattan Project (so-called because of where the research began) would wind its way through many locations during the early period of theoretical exploration, most importantly, the University of Chicago, where Enrico Fermi successfully set off the first fission chain reaction. But the Project took final form in the desert of New Mexico, where, in 1943, Robert J. Oppenheimer began directing Project Y at a laboratory at Los Alamos, along with such minds as Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, and Fermi. Here theory and practice came together, as the problems of achieving critical mass—a nuclear explosion—and the construction of a deliverable bomb were worked out.

Finally, on the morning of July 16, in the New Mexico desert 120 miles south of Santa Fe, the first atomic bomb was detonated. The scientists and a few dignitaries had removed themselves 10,000 yards away to observe as the first mushroom cloud of searing light stretched 40,000 feet into the air and generated the destructive power of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT. The tower on which the bomb sat when detonated was vaporized.

The question now became—on whom was the bomb to be dropped? Germany was the original target, but the Germans had already surrendered. The only belligerent remaining was Japan.

A footnote: The original $6,000 budget for the Manhattan Project finally ballooned to a total cost of $2 billion.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Abraham Lincoln was the first president to ever be photographed at his inauguration. In the photo, he is standing near John Wilkes Booth, his future assassin.

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