Friday, September 16, 2005

R.I.P. Joseph Rotblat

/ science / conscientious /
Belatadely, yet important: Joseph Rotblat, a Polish nuclear physicist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, died at the age of 96 on September 2.

Rotblat was the last surviving signatory of the Pugwash, Russell-Einstein Manifesto issued in 1955.

Rotblat was involved in the Manhattan Project but walked out on moral principle, when he realised that Germany wouldn't be aquiring a nuclear bomb:

"I realised that my fear about the Germans making the bomb was ungrounded, because I could see the enormous effort which was required by the American(s), with all their resources practically intact, intact by the war - everything that you wanted was put into the effort. Even so, I could see that it's still far away, and that by that time the war in Europe was showing that Hitler is going to be defeated, and I could see that probably the bomb won't be ready; even that Hitler wouldn't have it in any case. Therefore I could see this from the beginning, that my being there, in the light of the reason why I came to work on it, was not really justified. But nevertheless, I could not be sure that the Germans would not find a shortcut maybe and they could still make the bomb. Therefore I kept on working together with the other people, although I was very unhappy about having to work on it. But as soon as I learned, towards the end of 1944, that the Germans have abandoned the project, in fact a long time before, I decided that my presence there was no longer justified, and I resigned and I went back to England..."

A moral giant who is now honoured universaly.

... Which wasn't always the case.

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