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If Japan's military regime really wanted to produce an atom bomb before the Americans, it put almost no money behind the effort, compared with the Americans' $2 billion. For their part, the Japanese physicists simply made the wrong scientific choice in their fission experiments, deciding to work with high-energy rather than low-energy neutrons. Even if they had been able to produce a chain reaction, there was very little uranium in the country and no way to get more. There is little doubt that if the Japanese had made a Bomb before the Americans, they would have used it, but the question is moot. Kakihana always believed that the U.S. would build the Bomb first, but he thought that the Americans would use it only in a demonstration.
"All the while," Agnew says, "I really was aching to get in the war. Pure and simple. I wanted in especially because all my classmates and my friends in Denver were in. We had an all-city softball team. My catcher got killed in the war--a guy named Howard Erikson. And all the other kids--Bob Hogan, who would have made, maybe, an All-America golf and/or football player, he got killed. Everybody was gettin' killed. Or they were off fighting someplace. And of course, the neighbors wanted to know where I was. And my parents said they really didn't know, but they knew I was doin' something. Well, it sounded as if I'd gone over the hill. That really bothered me. And it bothered them, but they really didn't know where we were. We had a P.O. box, that's all. So I wanted in. If I was ever asked, 'What did you do in the war, Daddy?' I could say, 'I did this. I didn't hide under a bush.'
"Luckily for me, in late '44 [fellow Physicist] Luis Alvarez, who also wanted to get in the war, came up with the idea that we were neglecting our responsibilities if we didn't try to measure the yield of the Bomb while we were making it. Well, as soon as I heard about this, I went and pounded on Luis' door and said I wanted to play, and I became a member of his team. I knew that if I could handle measuring the yield, that I'd be going overseas. So did Luis. We knew too that we would get to fly on missions. We'd be as important as a tail gunner, even one who never fired a shot."
Today Agnew is glad to see a mutual understanding between the soldiers and the physicists. He is annoyed by those of his former colleagues at Los Alamos who believe that science struck a perilous bargain with the military during the war. That was the thrust of Rabi's reunion speech: "We gave away the power to people who didn't understand it and were not grown up enough and responsible enough to realize what they had." Rabi's speech "really irritated me," says Agnew, who was at that same reunion and whose own speech declared that the Japanese "bloody well deserved" what they got. "I have always felt that science and the military should work together. And they have, from Day One, whether it was Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo or whoever. They were always designing things for the people in charge."