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In Memory of August 6, 1945, and of Joseph Rotblat

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Today is the 65th anniversary of our bombing of Japan at Hiroshima. I intended to submit a pictorial article with minimal text, but it was simply too angry. If any issue confronting us requires objectivity, understanding and a sense of our brotherhood, it is nuclear disarmament.

Then, I remembered where to find a few hundred words I'd read which are much more appropriate than the pictures.

The words were written by the great British mathematical physicist Freeman Dyson, and may be found in his book The Scientist As Rebel (a New York Review book, copyright 2006 by NYREV, Inc), at the end of Chapter 12. The words are about another physicist, one who like Dyson worked at Los Alamos on the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His name was Joseph Rotblat.


Freeman Dyson in 2005, by Wikipedia

Freeman Dyson writes:

"In October of 1995, I was giving a lunchtime lecture to a crowd of students at George Washington University about the history of nuclear weapons. I told them about the meeting that had been held in a nearby building on their campus in January 1939. I told them how the scientists at the meeting missed the opportunity that was fleetingly placed in their hands, to forestall the development of nuclear weapons and to change the course of history. I talked about the nuclear projects that grew during World War II, massive and in deadly earnest in America, small and halfhearted in Germany, serious but late-starting in Russia. I described the atmosphere of furious effort and intense camaraderie that existed in wartime Los Alamos, with the British and American scientists so deeply engaged in the race to produce a bomb that they did not think of stopping when the opposing German team dropped out of the race. I told how, when it became clear in 1944 that there would be no German bomb, only one man, of all the scientists at Los Alamos, stopped. That man was Joseph Rotblat. I told how Rotblat left Los Alamos and became the leader of the Pugwash Movement, working indefatigably to unite scientists in all countries to undo the evils to which Los Alamos gave rise. I remarked how shameful it was that the Nobel Peace Prize, which had been awarded to so many less deserving people, has never been awarded to Rotblat. At that moment, one of the students in the audience shouted, 'Didn't you hear? He won it this morning.' I shouted, 'Hooray,' and the whole auditorium erupted in wild cheering. In my head the cheers of the students are still resounding."

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Joseph Rotblat's ID Badge at Los Alamos, in 1944, by Wikipedia

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I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)
 

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