Monday, January 23, 2006

Albert Einstein

physicistThe development of this frightful means of destruction was ardently demanded by the perils of the time and situation. Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity revolutionized man's view of the universe and made possible quantum theory and ultimately the development of the atomic bomb. In fact, it was a letter from Einstein himself that convinced U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide funding for the secret U.S. atomic program. As a German-born Jew, Einstein fled Germany for the United States after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler seized power in 1934. In the summer of 1939, fellow expatriate physicists Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, and Edward Teller, profoundly disturbed by the lack of American atomic action, enlisted the aid of the Nobel prize-winner Einstein, hoping that a letter from such a renowned scientist would help attract Roosevelt's attention. Einstein, a life-long pacifist, agreed to the venture because of his fear of sole Nazi possession of the deadly weapon, a possibility that became especially troubling after Germany ceased the sale of uranium ore from occupied Czechoslovakia. After reading Einstein's letter, Roosevelt created the Uranium Committee, and in 1942, the highly secret U.S. atomic program became known as the Manhattan Project. On July 16, 1945, an international team of scientists successfully tested the world's first atomic bomb in the desert of New Mexico, and on August 6 and August 9, two U.S. atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, resulting in the eventual deaths of over 200,000 people. Albert Einstein deplored the use of the deadly weapon against the population centers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and after the war urged international control of atomic weapons.


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