Gonzales-Perez drops the bomb on Southeastern

On Oct. 13 in the Pottle Music Building Auditorium, the department of history and political science sponsored a lecture called “Nuclear Politics: It’s the Bomb!” by Dr. Margaret Gonzalez-Perez, a professor of political science.

This lecture was the third in the “Then and Now” lecture series held by the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts for the month-long Fanfare festival.

The lecture touched on a variety of issues concerning nuclear weapons. In particular, she discussed how nuclear bombs came about, how they still affect the world today and some of the productions that were inspired by the creation of nuclear weapons.

“This is really an important topic,” said Gonzales-Perez. “People feel that since the war has died down that we don’t have to worry about the possibility of a nuclear bomb being detonated, but it is really the opposite. We may have more to worry about, now that the super power monopoly on nuclear weaponry is over.”

Gonzales-Perez explained how the making of the first atomic bomb, developed by American theoretical physicist Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, was intended to be used for tactical strikes against military enemies rather than for the destruction of cities and civilians.  

According to Gonzalez-Perez, the creation of the first atomic bomb made the United States the world’s greatest nuclear power. Many other countries followed suit, finding ways to make atomic weaponry to contend with this new competition.

“Nuclear weapons change military doctrine strategy even for countries that couldn’t ever hope to have atomic bombs,” said Gonzales-Perez.

She explained this idea as an insecurity dilemma where if one country had nuclear weapons, others countries felt threatened and tried to develop their own.

Toward the end of the lecture, Gonzales-Perez pointed out that some of the movie productions that are well known today were initially inspired by the creation of nuclear weaponry. Movies such as “Godzilla” and “King Kong” were all inspired by the emergence of nuclear technology.

“These were all reactions by the public to the reality of nuclear destruction,” said Gonzalez-Perez. “People handled the fear of make-believe monsters better than they handled the reality of nuclear detonation, so ‘Godzilla’ movies and giant human and monster movies became really popular.”

Some Disneyland venues were also inspired by nuclear technology. Disneyland’s “Rocket to the Moon,” a ride at Tomorrowland, was one of the displays inspired along with the “Man in Space” TV episodes. Some of the audience members were very intrigued by all the productions that have been inspired by nuclear technology.

“I found the lecture interesting,” said Landon Jones, a sophomore industrial technology major. “I learned a lot about nuclear weapons and it’s kind of funny how things like ‘Godzilla’ and Disney were all tied into the development of nuclear technology.”

Information on other upcoming lectures and Fanfare events can be found by contacting the Columbia Theatre by phone at 985-543-4371 or by visiting www.columbiatheatre.org.