"The Radiance" is based on an extract from a speech by scientist Robert Oppenheimer's infamous "Destroyer of Worlds" talk, in which he quoted the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu scriptures) after the first testing of the atomic bomb in 1945. Oppenheimer was the scientific director of the Manhattan Project, the World War II project that developed the first nuclear weapons. He learned Sanskrit in 1933 and read the Bhagavad Gita in the original, citing it later as one of the most influential books to shape his philosophy of life. In reference to the Trinity test in New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was detonated, Oppenheimer quoted verse 32 from Chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
The album title comes from another extract from Robert Oppenheimer's speech regarding the atom bomb, again referring to the Bhagavad Gita: "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one."
Movie director Michel Gondry played live drums on the Late Registration track, "Diamonds From Sierra Leone." The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind filmmaker happened to be in the studio on a day when producer Jon Brion was setting up a drum kit