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San Antonio Summer ‘64
  1. Richard Bronson
  1. Correspondence to
    Richard Bronson, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Stony Brook University Medical Center, New York 11794-8091, USA; Richard.Bronson{at}

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…there are approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons located …in 14 countries. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2014

Rising on columns of fire,

rockets launched to the moon –

and I who'd wished

to work with astronauts,

am assigned instead

to weigh SAC bomber crew

immersed in water –

measure “lean body mass,”

wondered what difference

a paunch on a pilot would make

sitting in a B52.


eyes hidden

behind red goggles,

they swaggered

in their muscled nakedness

into my lab.

Dark-adapted to their cockpits,

ready day or night, airborne

at the President's command –

fly over the pole, drop hydrogen bombs –

mutual assured destruction.

MAD it was called.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.