— Robert B. Laughlin American physicist 1950
On his experiences in the military during his training on how to fire Pershing missiles.
Nobel Prize autobiography (1998)
Kontext: Oklahoma is laid back and rather beautiful, with rolling brown hills not unlike the ones in California. The Pershing missiles, on the other hand, were not beautiful. They were horrible weapons of war — solid-fuel rockets five feet in diameter at the base, long as a moving van, and capable of throwing a tactical nuclear warhead 500 miles. They were launched from trucks and required a team of 10 men to service and fire. The most interesting thing I learned during this time was how small a nuclear warhead was. The nose cone of a Pershing is only about 18 inches in diameter at the base. I had not been interested at all in nuclear weaponry as a student, and so I had never thought through carefully about their "efficiency". It is sobering thought that these missiles were actually deployed in continental Europe in those days and that on at least one occasion, namely the 1973 Arab-Israel war, there was an alert serious enough to leave the commanding officers trembling.