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Best of the Best
World War II
MIDI & Sound
Awesome from New Media - 1996 Invision Award of Excellence: Entertainment and Edutainment
4 1/2 stars from CD-ROM Today - Critic's Choice
Explore Wartime Los Alamos with the Pioneers of the Nuclear Age
From 1943 to 1945, brilliant scientists at Los Alamos raced to produce a weapon so powerful that it could end World War II. Now you can meet these people and explore atomic science in a visually spectacular CD-ROM that reveals the scope and urgency of this monumental endeavor. Immerse yourself in engrossing multimedia documentaries, cinematic biographies, and an extraordinary virtual environment. Discover how the detonation of the first atomic bomb changed the course of history forever.
Discover the extraordinary science and people behind a pivotal event in world history - the building and testing of the first atomic bomb. Critical Mass takes you directly into the world of the Manhattan Project and the renowned scientists responsible for one of the most provocative scientific achievements of our time.
Compelling cinematic documentaries introduce the mission and its top-secret facility in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Immerse yourself in captivating stories and a vivid, panoramic virtual environment which bring to life the urgency and scope of this monumental endeavor. Meet some of the world's most brilliant scientists portrayed in engrossing biographical documentaries and elegantly illustrated essays.
Critical Mass reveals the essential foundations and far-reaching consequences of the race to develop the nuclear bomb. Investigate these developments through a multidimensional timeline, evocative photography, an innovative atomic atlas, and much more. By exploring compelling stories and in-depth reference material, you can experience firsthand the riveting drama and science that launched the atomic age.
Features. Los Alamos Story is an engrossing multimedia documentary that chronicles the drama of the urgent scientific effort to build the first atomic bomb. Prelude sets the stage for this unprecedented gathering of preeminent scientists. Beyond Trinity offers a customizable presentation of images of political, cultural, and medical changes arising from the first nuclear test.
Biographies. Intriguing biographical documentaries portray the personalities, challenges, and accomplishments of four renowned scientists - J. Robert Oppenheimer, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, and Richard Feynman. Fascinating illustrated essays combine images and stories to depict other scientists such as Teller, Meitner, Szilard, Bethe, and Einstein.
Timeline. The dynamic, multidimensional timeline chronicles interrelated developments in science, warfare technology, political history, and popular culture. The diverse material includes medieval weaponry, newsreels of the Nagasaki bombing, footage from the Rosenberg trial, Spider-Man comics, Flash Godon movies, early rock 'n' roll recordings, and more.
The Site. Experience what it was like to be in wartime Los Alamos through a panoramic virtual environment that re-creates the sights and sounds of the secret Los Alamos community. A series of mini-tours hosted by Los Alamos National Laboratory archivist Roger Meade includes interviews with people who lived and worked there.
Reference. Enrich your understanding of the people and events of the Manhattan Project by perusing an archive of compelling materials including photos, film clips, memorabilia, and documents - some recently declassified. Study a dynamic atlas of atomic events and an animated glossary of essential scientific terms and concepts.
Requirements: Multimedia PC with 486/33 or better, 8MB RAM, 256-color Super VGA display, double-speed CD-ROM drive, 8-bit Windows-compatible sound card and speakers, mouse, Microsoft Windows 3.1 (runs on Windows 95).
New Media, April 1, 1996
"Three reasons to buy Critical Mass: America's Race to Build the Atomic Bomb: It's a superlative piece of storytelling; it's a text-book example of how to design a strikingly attractive multimedia disc; and its navigation tools are about as good as they get.
"Critical Mass is centered on the biographies of four scientists who helped build the bomb: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi and madcap Richard Feynman. We get feature presentations on each - narrated slide shows, film clips and interviews - along with shorter profiles of a half-dozen or so other important nuclear figures, a PBS-quality feature on the history of the bomb, an exceptionally understandable tutorial on physics and an encyclopedic illustrated timeline on weaponry, general science, World War II politics and post-Hiroshima 'nuclear culture.'
"Its use of art, photography, effects, music, animation and narration more or less defines what multimedia should be. And its visual and audio components work together brilliantly to produce a narrative environment that is always eye-catching and never cluttered. (A word of caution: Critical Mass' visual intensity eats processing power like Godzilla devours Tokyo.)
"One of the least lovable attributes of information-laden CD-ROMs is the ease with which one gets lost in the data. Happily, Critical Mass is different. An unobtrusive pop-out menu strip brackets the left side of the screen, and thumbnails line the top, telling you precisely where you are. It's clean, simple and intuitive. But there's more: In one of the disc's best segments users get to stroll around the town of Los Alamos in 1944 and peek into its buildings.
"Users will find Critical Mass to be as good as any multimedia package on the market; developers will find the CD-ROM well worth imitating."
Computer Shopper, May 1996
"Critical Mass is elegantly designed and easy to navigate, but its beauty is more than 'disc-deep.' The variety of the material, along with the level of detail in different sections makes this an extremely browsable CD. Sections include biographies of scientists who built the bomb; a tour of the Los Alamos, N.M., site where the effort was based, complete with 360-degree views; a document archive; and a world map pin-pointing decade-by-decade atomic bomb detonations, reactor constructions, and nuclear accidents (planes carrying A-bombs seem to crash an awful lot).
"The details on the disc turn dry history into a story that comes alive. You learn how the bomb acquired the informal code name Gadget, what physicist Niels Bohr did with his gold Nobel Prize medal when he fled the Nazis, and how one scientist at Los Alamos succeeded in his quest to have steak for dinner each night."
"Those who really want a complete multimedia picture of the Manhattan Project may wish to follow up on Critical Mass with Voyager's The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb. Trinity features many more on-camera interviews with Los Alamos veterans, along with more reflection on a chilling paradox: that this incomprehensibly lethal weapon was built by a bunch of regular guys and gals."
CD-ROM Today, May 1996
"Critical Mass: America's Race to Build the Atomic Bomb is the best of several recent discs on this perennially fascinating subject. Rather than concentrating solely on the Manhattan Project and its aftermath, this CD-ROM tells the wider story of the bomb's creators and their world, mixing well-orchestrated narratives with carefully selected reference materials.
"Detailed multimedia biographies of Oppenheimer, Feynman, Niels Henrik Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Leo Szlard, Hans Bether, and other key physicists anchor this immense scientific undertaiking in a more human reality. The quality of the bios varies. Those about Oppenheimer and Fermi are right on the money, concisely outling the importance of these scientists to both the field of physics and the bomb project. On the other hand, the Feynman piece tends to wander a little off-track. It spends nearly as much time examining his newsmaking analysis of the Challenger space shuttle disaster as it does his work at Los Alamos. (Probably because Feynman's role in the bomb project was comparatively minor.)"
"...But the coolest part of the disc is the 3D re-creation of the Los Alamos lab. You can move around the site and click on the various buildings to see what went on inside, or visit Ground Zero at the Trinity site (one of the spookiest places on earth)."
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