Physics/Library Seminar: Einstein's Letter: The campaign to build "the Bomb" before the Germans
Title: Einstein's Letter: The campaign to build "the Bomb" before the Germans
Speaker: Prof. Steve Gimbel (Gettysburg College)
Albert Einstein was not only one of the world’s most famous physicists, but also one of the world’s most famous pacifists. These two aspects came into conflict when Einstein’s colleague Leo Szilard realized how to create a nuclear reaction that would be weaponized. It was during World War II and if Szilard could figure it out, then German scientists like Werner Heisenberg might as well. The possibility of Hitler having atomic weapons was frightening. As a result, Szilard and Einstein wrote one of the most important letters in history, a note to President Roosevelt that launched the atomic age. It was a decision Einstein would later regret. We will examine Einstein’s pacifism, how his science contributed to the development of the bomb, why he was excluded from the Manhattan Project, and his anti-proliferation work later in life.