Seaview surfaces in the frozen arctic so Nelson and Crane can witness the test firing of an enemy's newest weapon. Created by idealist Everett Lang, the milk carton sized device delivers a fireball twenty miles across. This "proton bomb", is supposed to restore a “balance of power”. But the enemy leader has other ideas. He orders Lang killed. Lang barely survives, and then contacts the United States, offering proton bomb technology in return for protection. Is his offer legitimate? Can the United States afford not to have this weapon? Complicating matters is the fact that the enemy has already built a device large enough to destroy the world. And... the physicist's idealism, which expresses itself as a scheme to pull the world's nuclear powers “back from the brink”.