“Like many of the brightest mathematicians and physicists working during and just after World War II, Stan Ulam got involved in military projects. Hist invention, with John von Neumann, of the Monte Carlo method was a key element in the development of the hydrogen bomb. The same forces that drove him to wonder about the cardinality of abstrusely defined sets and the dimensionality of peculiarly defined spaces also guided him to accurate ways of modeling the statistics of chain reactions. At the time he did the work, the nature of the dilemma it would lead humanity as a whole into was not so clear as it now is. To be sure, Einstein had warned us about our slow drift into unparalleled peril, but few people had Einstein’s clarity of vision. One of the paradoxes about people is that they are so small compared to the events they can be involved in. Stan Ulam was an ant in a vast colony, and though his role was more significant than that of most ants, he still had no control over the nature of the colony itself. Human nature is one thing, but humanity’s nature is another thing.
Douglas Hofstadeter, _Mathematical Chaos and Strange Attractors, _as seen in Metemagical Themas.