How the Halifax explosion relates to Oppenheimer and other Canadian connections to the atomic bomb

Cillian Murphy stars as J. Robert Oppenheimer in a scene from Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. The movie makes fleeting mention of the Halifax explosion, which Oppenheimer studied in order to predict the effects of the atomic bomb. But Canada’s connections to the atomic age run deeper than that. (Universal Pictures/The Associated Press) When the word "Halifax" is mentioned in Christopher Nolan’s new film Oppenheimer , it’s brief, almost in passing. But the utterance of the name in relation to the site of Canada’s largest disaster instantly conjures up images of destruction on an epic scale.

On Dec. 6, 1917, a French munitions ship and a Norwegian steamship carrying relief supplies collided in Halifax harbour, resulting in one of the largest human-made explosions. It killed nearly 2,000 people, blinded another 9,000, and left more than 25,000 homeless, all years before the detonation of the first atomic bombs in 1945.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, known […]

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