Robert Oppenheimer speaking at UCLA 5/14/1964Dec 31, 2021
I think I should introduce my presenter. Thank you so much. This is the third annual university science conference sponsored jointly by the University and the Society. Sigma Chi. This year's lecture is brought to us by the Hitchcock Chair, ladies and gentlemen. Robert Oppenheimer. Thank you so much. for your wonderful and warm welcome and thank you sir for the best presentation I have ever had. Take a minute to pull out my machine. This will not really be a lecture on technical topics, but on a great man of science. Niels Bohr was one of them. Of the great and noble men of our time, he was a little younger than Einstein and Rutherford and it fell to him to harmonize in the development of atomic theory Einstein's ideal of a general and consistent theory of physics and Rutherford's love of physics. novelty and innovation. adventure I don't want to accumulate adjectives about this friend, but I will tell an episode.
Bohr was the first winner of the Atoms for Peace Prize, no one really knows what the prize is for, but everyone agreed that this was the right man to give it to him. and when the ceremonies were over, Ralph Bunche, who was a member of the awards committee, told me that it won't be easy after this, I think even later winners would agree with that assessment, but before I move on to my account of Bohr. unique role in the development of atomic weapons I think I should tell you a few things about where he was born and how he lived.
He was born in 1885 in Copenhagen and his family was a serious, secular, humorous, warm and erudite family, full as doors. later title that you said about light and life your father was a well-known male physiologist and from the first moment Bohr was interested in understanding what living beings in addition to inanimate ones said in inorganic nature and he wondered if the vitalist argument of those days had to be mentioned again and again. His last article published posthumously was essentially a clarification of his views on the relationship of life to the relationship between physical and chemical systems.
Bohr's brother was a little younger, Harald, and he became a very eminent mathematician, so from very early on and throughout his life, Bohr had distanced himself somewhat from the love of mathematics. Lexy didn't do much, but he admired them and used them occasionally and recognized in them an immense expansion of language and ability. talk about things that in words would simply be inaccessible and were lifelong friends as students or were eclectic attended some lectures read some books what he heard and read had a profound effect on him had a profound effect on him and He was always known in his family like the young philosopher, he distinguished himself among his teachers by telling them what was wrong in what they said and he had a concern from very early in his life, it was almost a book about it that would dominate much of his life. years of maturity and that was with the subtleties of the use of words and concepts, he said and the fact that the self that acts is not the same as the self that I study or know or that someone else examines, he thought about the fact that To for a word to be effective in its use, is not the same as a word when loaded into the table undefined and thought that life at runtime does matter and on the other hand its purpose was not completely clouded with saut .
He was a very distinguished football player and his brother was too and his brother was maybe a little better anyway when Bohr became a very famous Dane the king asked to see him and he went to his first audience and the king said he is a pleasure. see you professor boy I understand that you are a great soccer player soccer player and we will keep he said yes he did in everything else your majesty that is my brother the King repeated Professor Bohr it is a pleasure to see you I understand the true great soccer player and more he said how He always did it, but that was my brother and the king said good morning.
They both began their lives in science with a 19th century problem, which was to study the oscillations of the water jet when it comes out of a small hole. That was his master's thesis. and the Royal Danish Academy gave him the award and he got more and more awards and medals throughout his life at the end of his life. Sometimes I was just with him when he was dressing up for a state dinner and he had so much. that he had to wrap him with his Ascar and his hope, otherwise he would sink. Did he move?
These theses began to take him to the heart of physics at the end of the 19th century. The day Thomson had found this universal and remarkably active ingredient of matter called the electron. and had written a lot about the behavior of electrons in metals (they play an important role in the electrical, thermal and optical properties of net metals and in the magnetic properties) and that thesis was a critical examination of everything and came to the conclusion that he was mostly wrong, he was wrong, so of course he went to see Thompson at Cambridge, he was a Cavendish professor there, and he started talking to him about it, and that was no joy to Thompson, but then it happened. somewhat muffled, he heard that Russell had given a lecture and After dinner, he heard indirectly and with great enthusiasm, but without clarity, that the board discovered something important about atomic structure and went to Manchester and this was the year after Rutherford discovered that at the heart of an atom is essentially all the mass. and the charge that we now know is the atomic number and that around that there is a relatively open and open structure of life.
This is very different from what had been thought before and Bohr immediately realized and a lot of everything with all that this implied. the separation of nuclear properties that determined radioactivity and depended on mass and atomic properties that depended only on atomic charge and the behavior of electrons and very soon saw that this behavior was in no way reconciled with any well-established principle . physics with Newton's laws or Maxwell's electrodynamics and formulated in 1913 the first and brave general and approximate principles of what the atomic structure was: a very radical break with the past that he knew and, however, very clearly, of somehow, in harmony with him, when it was not about atomic issues. systems, but with the big ones, he said, it was immediately clear that the atom was governed by the quantum of action.
The summer of 1912 he married with an immigration annulment and his marriage was of extraordinary warmth, depth and beauty. They had five children, all boys, the second. Some of you may know that he is also a physicist and that he will reappear at this conference. He is the director who succeeds his father at the Copenhagen Institute. The eldest son, Christian, was lost in a sloop on the ship while he, his father, and the baron were sailing and never recovered. After hours of watching, Bohr would sometimes talk about life's problems and it was always clear that he knew what he was talking about.
Bohr returned to Manchester between the ages of 14 and 16 and then, in the middle of the war, he returned to Copenhagen and throughout that time he was alone. Exploring the quantum theory of the atom, he had many conversations with experimental people, Rutherford himself, and much correspondence with Mosley while measuring atomic numbers with then in 1916 this professor returned to Copenhagen and since then he was never alone again others had learned that there was something in his theory he had company he had a school in the good sense of the same Ian was the promoter and beneficiary of an international collaboration of singular intensity, depth and charm.
I once called this a period Roy and unborn, I wrote Rutherford's memorial lecture, he repeated the phrase in quotes, so perhaps it was in 1920 that the Institute was founded by him. It is called the Institute of Theoretical Physics, but it had experimental facilities, its attention was focused on understanding home and nature and until 1927 the great struggle to make sense of atomic theory continued and at that time Bohr gave his interpretation of how it should be understood. wave mechanics and quantum mechanics in terms of the fact that 'litham could be explored and its properties discovered, but the different experiments were mutually exclusive because they would not work if tried together and he had called these features of the atomic system complementary and he began shortly after to talk about the analogies between this situation and those found in the human psyche and in biology, in anthropology, where loyalty to a culture and awareness of other cultures are complementary and, in many other fields, perhaps the things he thought about when he was young returned and his here often occurred to him the complementary nature in any society of love which is the fulfillment of a man and justice which is the equality of men in the mid years thirty he returned to some problems of nuclear physics he had an incredible crowd of young friends physicists or physicists artists statesmen philosophers although he was very suspicious of those and I remember for example that he was a very close friend of the divided man the first president of Israel and Bukharian and Stalin had been shot in the surgeries in their house and kasparek which was them built in the 19th century and was a typical drink of the 19th century, they lived, entertained and cared for the young and eventually got bored.
They died on the walls there was much contemporary abstract painting interspersed with decorous photographs of their ancestors, even in those early Manchester days. Bora was in 1912. Bohr, of course, was interested in the atomic nucleus and in the first few months they paid as much attention to it as to the desperate problem of what electrons did, but after that, the great commitment, the heroic time. The task of understanding the quantum theory of the atom and all its meanings would occupy him almost entirely, but at the end of the war in 1918, Rutherford wrote to recount his success in performing an artificial nuclear transmutation: the historic change of nitrogen into oxygen, bombarded with nitrogen. alpha particle to give oxygen and a fast proton which is what he detected wrote to each other after the war ended Bohr wrote in a way that seems quite melancholic in light of what would happen a quarter of a century later and of history what I am about to tell us all, he wrote, we are all convinced that there will never again be a war of such dimensions in Europe, it is a new era in history when Rutherford's article on the transmutation of nitrogen was published in 1919. and the somersault both pointed out that they were probably looking at a very interesting application of Einstein's relationship between the change of mass and the release of energy in 1932 Rutherford in April of that year rosin rosin laughter - boy, he said he was convinced by Chadwick's experiments that something called a neutron really existed.
This had been predicted 12 years earlier by Rutherford in the last conference on EURion, that there would be something that was neutral in which the electron was bonded to the proton in a much more intimate way than in an atom. and that this would be a very interesting particle because it could enter the nuclei without any electrical repulsion and should be very valuable for producing nuclear changes. Rutherford also wrote about the successful outcome of Chadwick and the Guardians' attempt to accelerate protons. They had done it and the protons transformed the lithium into two alpha particles and it was possible to verify with great precision that the energy of the alpha particles corresponds to the change in mass in this reaction.
It was the beginning with neutrons and in the mid-thirties Fermi and his collaborators began their famous experiments. With a deceleration and a constant, he discovered that in many substances the neutrons caused were more active, caused more changes and the products were very often radioactive. In that case, it's not too difficult to figure out what's going on. Normally the reaction is that slow neutrons will do it. enters a nucleus the energy released by this is lost in gamma radiation the product may be stable in which case it is not so easy to find or it may be radioactive in which case the probability that these reactions were enormous corresponding to collision areas of a million ten million times that of the nucleus and everyone understood that this was a typical consequence of the wave property of all neutrons and all matter, but there was a more surprising point: the energy at which these probabilities were very large.
The spectra were typical from one nucleus to another, they differed from one nucleus to another and we were very clearly defined, so that at that energy the neutrons were effective and at slightly different energies they did not intervene at that point because I understood what was happening in one place well defined. Energy means according to quantum theory that the time the state lasts is very long and Bourne interpreted this roughly but correctly in terms of the fact that the neutron lost its energy to all the other particles in the nucleus and it would be a long time before that the energy would come out as radiation, which is a slow process or before it reacted too late on some other particle that could escape the discovery of the radioactivity of uranium when bombarded by slow neutrons, was not truly interpreted.by ceremony in analogy with all of you. the others and in fact this was largely correct, but it was somewhat disconcerting that when one tried to unravel these activities and separate them chemically one of the products appeared to be radium which of course is not very close to uranium in atomic or atom weight. number and Hahn was a veteran and an old friend of Rutherford and the rest and Strassman took great care to make sure of this strange identification and they found something much stranger because the radioactivity came from the barium and not from the radio that brought this news. to this country, the United States, in fact, to the Princeton Institute and agreed with the suggestion, which was more than a suggestion with conviction that Otto Frisch was in Copenhagen and Miss Mike Nura was in Stockholm that uranium sometimes decayed. in two pieces that were not completely the same and that sometimes one of the pieces was very good, so one looked for the pieces that must have a lot of energy and they found them Probably in more places, but certainly in Colombia, in Copenhagen and in Berkeley, they analyzed the situation in more detail and wrote that neutron capture in uranium 238, which is almost all the fastest uranium, occurs naturally, while normal capture leads to gamma rays and radioactive uranium which, as they discovered in Berkeley, led to uranium-235 to neptunium 239 and plutonium and that only the relatively rare really very rare isotope of the lighter isotope 235 was fished with slow neutrons and then with a wheeler Bohr did a more or less systematic study of what made it now a nucleus underwent fission, either spontaneously (this had been discovered in Russia, Belarus and pet rock) or under neutron bombardment, from these arguments one could have concluded that uranium 235, uranium 233 and plutonium 239 probably would undergo fission easily and so would neutrons, but in nature the latter do not exist and the former seemed and in fact were quite formidable and difficult to separate, so when Bora left the United States for Copenhagen he did not expect that the applications explosives from the fission process were very difficult to separate.
Up close, it was some time before one knew that enough neutrons were released to sustain a chain reaction, and it wasn't really until the year 43 or 44 that it was proven at Los Alamos that in fast neutron reactions the number of neutrons was adequate and time delays were small enough that explosions could actually occur. I returned to Copenhagen, but the world was very different from the heroic days. For seven years, his Institute and his house in Carlsberg had been a refuge, often temporary but sometimes for a long time. in the first cases for colleagues from Germany and then from Austria, when Fermi came to Scandinavia to obtain his Nobel Prize, he went to the Bohr Institute instead of returning to Italy, then he came here from Russia, Charlotte came, how Tremont, whose husband remained in jail until a The Molotov Ribbentrop pact, the verification of the plot and the arrest.
Bora had, in addition to his deep devotion to Denmark, which had kept him there when he was asked to go to England more than 20 years earlier, also a sense of responsibility for his children and for his people. The years 40-43 are not publicly documented and I don't know much about them. The Institute was closed in 1940. In Bergen von Weizsäcker also others came from Germany to Copenhagen or had the impression that they had not come to tell him what. They knew it, but see if they knew something that they didn't know and I don't think it was a very rewarding experience because in 1943 it was clear that Bohr could not stay any longer and that he would be killed.
He had undoubtedly been in contact with the Danish underground and, through them, with the British secret service, and Chadwick had written to him from England saying simply that it would be good if Bohr could go there, so in the last days of September he escaped at night in a small boat to Sweden. and three weeks later he was flown to England in Bombay from an unarmed mosquito, given an oxygen mask and a helmet with headphones, but the Royal Air Force didn't have heads like Bors's and they didn't fit him and he was completely unconscious. It wasn't fun at all when the burqa arrived in England and Chadwick talked to him about what was going on and told him about the companies that Tabora thought were fantastic and maybe looked fantastic today, they seem like something like an ordinary thing that was was carrying out in the United States to separate uranium 235 by yesh diffusion from the gaseous hexafluoride using Ernest Lawrence's method of enormous mass spectrographs in which each atom flew through the vacuum and went into his pocket and to build train reactors and chemically separate the plutonium and the The English were very involved in this, the possibility of manufacturing a bomb had been raised there and it is interesting that it was also raised there by two who were refugees from tyranny in Europe through Paris and by Simon and they, like us, formed a committee called mod. committee and they made a project with a code name called the Belarus project and they came to the conclusion that the British government concluded that this was an enterprise that should be explored with the greatest vigor, even if it had no or no effect on the outcome of the war seemed too important for the future of the world.
This English conclusion had, I think, a very important effect in transforming what was happening in this country from a series of rather languid and super-secret committee meetings to an effort that could one day become an adventure. waiting on a piece of machinery The British were concerned with just one of many programs and not exactly along the lines of those here and it soon became clear to them that they did not have the resources and that things would work much better if they could work with us and with the Canadians in establishments on this side of the Atlantic free of bombing and the threat of bombing three of the Rockets that had not yet arrived and relatively well in physical and material terms for those years, relations with the British rose and fell, they were good at the beginning and we had good communications with Piles and Dirac on some of the technical points about what happens when a bomb starts exploding, but as the borough of Manhattan was established to put this on a large scale.
Things were a little more complicated, so in August 43 Churchill spoke with President Roosevelt about it in Quebec and they signed an agreement that provided for the participation of British and Canadians in the United States for his son during missions to this country to share . the political and military responsibilities involved in the use and handling of the weapon if it ever came into existence and also for sharing what at the time had the most practical weight: the uranium that really belonged to neither of us and for postponing the question of possible industrial uses and so on until more was learned about it later, the Quebec agreement had been signed when the war came to England and Chadwick and his colleagues were very anxious for it to appear in this country and for the weight to increase Chadwick and his friends talked to us and we understood quite well that we had the same vision of the problems, the technical problems that are coming and they hope that Thor will come to play a role in it and Cibola was sent to see Sir John Anderson later.
Lord Waverly is a conservative and a remarkably sweet man, very sympathetic in spirit to Bohr and very deeply his friend, he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and was in charge of this tube alloys project and asked for help to maintain and improve the position of the United Kingdom in the company and help me pay the price of success by then, the meeting had its first Well, look, I will read you short passages of things he wrote and you will hear his own words, but I think it is better if I tell you boldly what points I risk oversimplifying in doing so, but I do so because it is easy, as history has well shown, for even very wise men not to know what Bohr was talking about this and the development fell on him with as much surprise as the atomic nucleus 20 many years before. and everything came in a great jumble in his mind, first of all he was clear that this was going to be an enormous change in the situation of the world in the tolerability of world war the word threat the word threat appears again and again in what he he wrote when he came to Los Alamos, his first serious question was whether I was really important enough, maybe I wasn't, but I finally became important.
The second point was that he knew enough of the Soviet situation to be sure that the wartime alliance would not. endure peace is how things were he spoke a lot about different economic and social systems and different traditions I think he was not thinking of India or Africa or China but of Russia of the communist world therefore he anticipated an unprecedented arms race never seen before, although for Of course not now because we have had it and are having it for big weapons, he came to know something about the possibility of vast thermonuclear amplification and even discreetly mentioned it to Roosevelt, Anderson and Churchill.
We didn't know much about it, but we knew it wasn't a hopeless prospect. He expected perhaps more than actually happened that what seemed such a formidable undertaking in 1943 would seem much less formidable in 53 of 63 in the way of obtaining materials. and in the way of assembling them and he thought that it was important and necessary to start early to try to prevent the arms race, he was quite clear that it was not possible to have effective control in this field that was picturesquely called atomic energy that would allow some beautiful applications, for example to technical and scientific things or to energy generation, that one could not have a free scientific spirit and have an active, open and healthy world without a very open world, in fact, he made it quite absolute, he thought that one would like to preserve privacy some respect for individual privacy perhaps more than is possible and he had a great respect for the private and silent processes of government and management in which the wrong thing can be said before the right thing is arrived at but, in principle, everything that could affect the security of the world could be a threat to him that would have to be open to the world.
He understood that the communists assumed a really disdainful attitude in
speakingor revealing the truth and he understood the extent to which this had gone beyond the tactical. duplicity recommended by Lenin for the most dangerous self-deception. He did not say this in any of his letters to Roosevelt or Churchill, but in a writing to General Marshall and the Secretary of State he wrote what it would mean if the whole picture of society's conditions in each country were open to judgment, hardly by comparison. It was necessary to expand them, so he understood that it would not be very like the Soviet Union to welcome and open the world and considered that it was essential to try to involve it through very broad means. early consultation consultation as an ally who had been fighting for a common cause invaded occupied and fighting with a desperate defensive war very important to try to put the company as a common problem of cooperation for the Russians the English the Americans the United Nations as they were then calling and a sport called them and being quite willing to offer with due safeguards and with an open world full cooperation in scientific progress and, if sensible, in industrial exploitation, he hoped that the situation in which the Russians and the advantages we could offer and the opportunity to associate ourselves with the most important and future change in the world could alter the entire character of Soviet politics, Soviet society and international relations, so that, in an essential and important way, the strength would play a much more important role. a more minority part and nations would influence history by their example, their persuasion and the extent to which they could contribute to the common well-being.
She was facing one of those examples of complementarity that she thought about when she was young, the complementarity between love. and justice spoke of all this I think very eloquently but perhaps not very precisely to understand and understand he was certainly very moved because shortly before his death he told me that he had never reconciled himself to the fact that Bohr had not been understood either. If Bohr came to the United States publicly, he had a cover which was to promote international cooperation in science after the war and what he really wanted to do would have, in fact, been followed or not and that his advice had been useless in the end. of 43.
A great measure to achieve it. His official role was, of course, to advance the development of the bomb and the British asked him to see if they could strengthen his position in this enterprise and make it more impressive. partners but the most secret of all was that he came to advance and this was with the concurrence and encouragement of Anderson his case and the cause of it when he came here lateof 43, of course saw the UK ambassador, Lord Halifax, and his own ambassador in Kauffman, who was very brave and gallant, represented his non-existent government in the conduct of the war and helped the Allied cause more than most Men's.
Hmm, through the Coptic Osman met Judge Frankfurt again, who had heard some of what was happening and listened. bore him with sympathy and deep respect and after some tours to visit other facilities they brought him with his son Noah who was his trusted companions his protector and helper and everything else through all these years that to the laboratory that is now called the psalmist alone I will tell you a brief episode of his arrival that may awaken the memory of those who have tried to listen to Bohr. The growing sport took the Boers out by train.
That he was the commanding general of the Manhattan district and that he was his He wanted to know everything he could about what the Germans were doing and he thought, more than was true, that Bohr might know something about it, so they went out and Groves He listened the whole time and then that night he dropped Bohr and his son off at our house. At home for dinner the next morning I saw Groves walking towards the laboratory very very stiff and limping very much they asked him what was wrong and he said evoking the image of a man sitting on the other side of a railway compartment and listening to a low voice
I've been listening to Bohr at Los Alamos. Bohr was simply wonderful. He showed a keen technical interest. We went over some of the things the Germans might be doing, but they weren't doing much and he became interested in what was going on. Yesterday I heard he got up early, Dick Simon. one morning and said you were cool and if I made a mistake you would correct me. All the other people are very polite. Would you explain to me what it is about? Hmm, yes, here and there he intervened. There was a difference of opinion, so to speak, brother. cautiously about the operation of a part of the bomb was intended to make the sudden burst of neutrons when the configuration is correct and Bohr did not say anything about the protagonists of this fight but said: I don't see how you can do it. wrong and that settled it, but his actual function, at least I think for most of us was different, this enterprise was not entirely a cheerful affair and very few people involved were cheerful, but Bork seemed to make it seem hopeful, he spoke with contempt. of Hitler with a few hundred tanks and a few hundred planes hoping to enslave all of Europe forever he said that none of that would happen again.
I hoped that the result would be good and that in this the objectivity, friendship and cooperation that were so prominent in the life of science would play a useful role, this was something we really wanted to believe at the beginning of 44 Justice frankfurter spoke to Russ, felt about Boris's ideas and the president listened with great interest and a word of encouragement and at that moment Andersen was talking to Churchill's prime minister trying to see if he couldn't open up the issue a little bit within the British government so that they could see what to do. Churchill didn't like that at all, so Bohr returned to England in April with some words of encouragement for Anderson, telling him that the president had some interest in this set of ideas.
Then an episode occurred: the first secretary of the Soviet embassy in London had a letter for him from Kapitza. Kapitza would have met Bohr in Cambridge and who had been asked to stay in Russia which caused him to stay in Russia and who was a good friend of all Western scientists and a remarkably lively and creative man and kapitza wrote saying that we have It happened terribly but now things are better. We can work on our physics and if you would like to come and join us we would all be delighted or would you interpret this as an indication that there was some interest in this Russia of the Soviet Union in the practical problems of atomic energy and wrote a correct answer and friendly but negative saying that he was working on international cooperation in science after Wharton and then they both returned to see Anderson and the president while the society Sir Henry Dale and Will, who was Churchill's only scientific advisor and in the First Minister.
At the Minister's suggestion, they all spoke to two sporting generals who had been wise before they spoke together and came to the conclusion that perhaps Churchill and Roosevelt could think about the future, then war caught up with Churchill, he was very, very unhappy , Charville didn't think much about war he didn't prepare the grand old man and didn't tell him what kind of man Bohr was and then the Prime Minister and his advisor started arguing and what he couldn't say anything and he didn't like that under normal circumstances he didn't like nothing in the solemn moment that overtook Churchill trying to rephrase what he had said by saying that he was aware that the meeting had not gone very well but saying definitively that he had brought a message from the President of the United States, the board returned to this country and left again for New Mexico and at the end of August, after having prepared a memorandum that the justice had shown to the president, he met with the President and they had a long conversation, of course, I don't know and it may be that no one do exactly what happened.
Bohr wrote what he said but he was never right and he never wrote about what anyone else said, but Bora was greatly encouraged and I will read you three paragraphs from the first. Boris memo the words are not easy, in fact it seems that only when the question of what concessions the various powers are willing to make to contribute to an adequate control agreement is debated in the United Nations, will it be possible for any of the partners to ensure of the sincerity of the intentions of others, of course, only responsible statesmen can have an idea of the real political possibilities, however, it would seem very fortunate that the expectations of a future harmonious international cooperation that have found unanimous expression in all the parties within the country The United Nations corresponds so remarkably to the unique opportunities known to the advancement of science, that the public knows that many reasons seem to justify the conviction that an approach whose objective is to establish common security in the face of sinister threats without excluding any nation from participating in the promising industrial development implied by the realization of the project will be welcomed and will be met with loyal cooperation in the implementation of the necessary far-reaching control measures, after which Bor drafted a supplementary memorandum that may have partly had unfortunate consequences by pointing out and many other things how close relations had been between members of the scientific community and saying that although States must decide and make proposals and act, scientists who knew each other could help prepare the ground In September Churchill arrived and he and Roosevelt met again in Quebec, but they kept the discussion of atomic problems to themselves until part of this discussion was hidden.
There is an editorial report signed by both men that contains three conclusions that were apparently based on a substantial, if not total, misunderstanding. The first conclusion was that Bohr's suggestion that the world be informed about development was rejected. My board of directors did not propose or would not tell the world anything that he considered important to Roosevelt or anyone who had Roosevelt's authority to tell Stalin or whether such a man existed, someone who had Stalin's authority over the future proposal and the need for common responsibilities and the deep need for an open world, only if everything went well, if there was some agreement of minds and the thing was resolved in a practical way and, in fact, there was an atomic bomb.
Would anyone think that the world could be told what could be done about it and also what could be manufactured? But Churchill, immersed, felt that he harshly rejected this approach and said. that the utmost secrecy had to be maintained, which of course they were trying to do, which worked quite well, but not too well. Secondly, Roosevelt and Churchill said that the Ferengi bombs, after mature deliberation, could be used against Japan, and thirdly, they said they would like to. having a very careful watch over the war, they didn't quite trust him, there was nothing funny about it, it was really very serious, on the one hand it shows how wise and experienced men who deal with a great man can be.
Wrong, it turned out right, the British were completely sure that this was nonsense and so were the Army Bush and other people in this country and Bohr would be said today that he was acquitted, but the fact is that he completely stopped and ended his communication with the President and that very seriously clouded and impeded his communication with our government. He never spoke to Secretary Stimson, Secretary of War, although he very much wanted to. In March '45, many months later, Bohr wrote another memo. By then, the dates of the bombs' arrival were The United Nations would meet for the first time in San Francisco and Bohr had a great sense of urgency that the issue of the bomb atom not be left to pass for too long.
I read him a longer passage. I do not apologize for its length since, as argued in the memorandum, this is the one I have cited, it would seem very fortunate that the measures required to deal with a new situation caused by the advance. of science and confronting humanity at a crucial moment in world affairs that fits so well with the patient wait for future intimate international cooperation that has found unanimous expression from all parties within the united nations against aggression; Furthermore, the very novelty of the situation should offer a unique opportunity. opportunity to appeal to an attitude free of prejudice and it would even seem that an understanding of this vital question could contribute more favorably to the solution of other problems in which history and traditions encourage divergent views with respect to such broad perspectives;
Free access to information necessary for common security should have far-reaching effects in removing obstacles to borrowing neutral knowledge about the spiritual and material aspects of life in various countries, without which respect for goodwill between nations can hardly endure participation in a development largely initiated by International scientific collaboration and involving immense potentialities with regard to human well-being would also reinforce the intimate ties that were created years before the war between scientists from different nations; In the current situation, these links may be especially useful in relation to the deliberations of the respective governments and the establishment of control.
I skipped two paragraphs; However, all these opportunities may be lost if no initiative is taken, while the matter may be raised in a spirit of friendly counsel; Indeed, a postponement pending further developments could, especially, of preparations for competitive efforts in the Meanwhile, an advanced stage gives the approach the appearance of an attempt at coercion to which a large nation may be expected to consent. ; in fact, it is not necessary to emphasize how fortunate it would be in all respects if at the same time that the world knew of the formidable destructive power that has reached human hands it could be said that the great scientific and technical advance has been useful in creating a base solid for future peace for cooperation between nations.
I don't know if Roosevelt ever read that memo at the time. He died shortly after when he died he was writing a speech published since, but he never made it about the new powers of science in war and the need to think that men could live together and work together in peace at the time Roosevelt died, Lord Halifax and justice. frankfurter they were walking through Lafayette Park right next to the White House talking about the bomb and De Bourgh's ideas with the death of Roosevelt. Bohr's memoranda were delivered to Stimpson, the Secretary of War, shortly after which Stillson appointed a committee of which Kyle Compton Bush and Conant were the technical members in which state the Navy and the president's office were represented.
This was the committee. interim was supposed to think about the future of course in an important sense Bohr was not alone at all Bush in Compton and Conant were clear that we must promote international peace control of these new techniques and these new dangers Stinson understood this and understood how The problem was profound and he understood that our relations with Russia were fundamental to it. The authors of the front report working in Chicago were so clear that this was the hope. and so, two of the scientists who came together after the war and eventually formed the Federation of American Scientists and many of you, I'm sure, but there were differences, the war was about action, about responsibility, about responsible action and timely, he realized he had to do it. be taken by those who had the power to commit and act wanted to change the framework in whichThis problem would appear early enough for the problem itself to be altered.
He spoke of a statesman who was not very in favor of committees and the interim committee was a committee. He showed that by creating another committee he appointed a scientific panel of which Arthur Compton Fermi Lawrence Ernest Lawrence and I were members, we met with them on the first of May in the west and we talked simply about the question of relations with Russia the future of science the future of civilized relations other people remember that there was talk about the use of bomb but that was not in a committee session and I did not participate in it.
I was deeply impressed by the wisdom of General Marshall he was very serious and very deep and honest about it and Secretary Stimson I went to the British mission where Bohr was and I tried to console him but he was too much of a man and I couldn't console him, he returned to do it and very insecure. and very concerned about what would happen in June, the scientific panel was asked questions and we had the opportunity to answer a different one, we recommend that for a firm decision on the use of the bomb our government talks about the future with our allies on June 21 , the interim committee met and agreed that this was correct and they thought it would be best to try to do it at the meeting scheduled for July 16 in Potsdam, meeting of the heads of state of England, Russia and the United States. do some kind of test for technical reasons and we planned it and we managed to do it in time for the Protestants to find out because we thought it would make a difference if things worked or not and it worked and still the Russians were not talked to this story has been well written in the last chapters of Churchill Roosevelt Stalin by Herbert Feist Stimson was horrified when he saw the Red Army and took some measure he himself said that they lost their nerve and probably that perhaps that soul was burning there had always been He was rather against talking to the Russians and Churchill was very against talking to them, but they all agreed that if the president said something to Stalin, they would use the New Mexico explosion as an opportunity to relieve him.
He made the worst accusations of double-dealing, so that when the news came from New Mexico it was much more shocking and now it seems that the president fired him, his interpreter was Charles Bolden, he did not want things to be too solemn and he went over to Stalin. Who by chance had his interpreter Pavlov but another man whose name no one knows and the President commented that we had a new weapon that was quite powerful and that we were thinking of using against Japan according to President Truman he is our witness Stalin told us wished luck and hoped it would work, which seems to have been quite coincidental then, with the use of the bombs, which raised other questions, of course, nothing is completely separate, but rather separated, there were rather slow pronouncements on international control in late '45, the delay and Mackenzie King came to Washington and agreed with President Truman that we should seek some international action and Secretary Burns was asked to take up the matter with the Russians to see if they would approve the creation within the United Nations of a Commission to discuss the atom.
The secretary was quite afraid of being asked how to make a bomb he didn't know, but he didn't want to have to tell them, but they were much less eager to talk about it than he was, and in fact nothing was said except that they would make a commission on At that moment two of the most responsible senators began to worry about what we were doing and asked the secretary what those controls were, so the secretary appointed a commission under the chairmanship of the undersecretary, Mr. Acheson to devise controls and a few days later, the Kotori government appointed a panel under the chairmanship of David Lilienthal to devise what to control.
It was a good committee. His committees became very good. It took us two months. I think more. of mutual respect and the solemnity of the problem by thinking about what things really had some danger in them and how they could eliminate or reduce that danger and what things were completely innocent and how they related to each other and how discovery could be encouraged and how they could be established international and national collaborative efforts to explore things like the possibility of thermonuclear bombs and many others. It was the committee document that I think was for that and for the times of not going to bed, but Bohr was not there.
Happy with this, he thought that he did not focus enough on the absolutely central theme for him of total openness. Well, when he came before the United Nations on the reform of the Broof plan, the officials of the United States military mission thought about the difference. I said if justice is done, everything will happen. be open and there will be no military secrets of any kind, it would not work if the job I think understood and foresaw this, but it did not, it was not accepted and a document that is not accepted is not a great contribution to human well-being and his boss said something that is deeper and truer.
He said that this situation demands action, it was an action to get them involved, he didn't have much hope or not much hope that now he could actually talk to the Russians in a way that would change their hostility and alienation from the West, but he still felt that it was a great cause for removing barriers to information, a great cause for shaping the state of the world. with technical or economic or political or military matters about the cultural about the world of science he spoke in 1946 with the acting Secretary of State and then in 1948 he had a long and thoughtful interview with General Marshall the Secretary of State was going to go to Paris to present the American argument at the United Nations Assembly and Bohr hoped that Marshall would be induced to say that we are in favor of eliminating secrets and that we are prepared at the right time to do just that, but the secretary did not say so.
In 1950, after the first Soviet explosion and the rather obvious decision that this country had to step up its game, Bohr wrote, just before the Korean War, an open letter to the United Nations telling in discreet terms what had happened. thought and what he had had. writing I will read you the last quote that only what you wrote is not addressed now to the heads of government but to the people and in general to you and me the efforts of all supporters of international cooperation, individuals and nations will be necessary create in all countries an opinion that expresses with ever greater clarity and strength the demand for an open world.
I cannot say, I am not sure anyone can know, whether early, timely and thoughtful action in the sense suggested by Bohr would have changed the course of history, there is nothing that I know about Stalin's behavior or his beliefs. That gives me a bit of hope in that sense, but I think Bohr also understood this and understood that this action would create a profound change in the situation and he believed that with changing situations, changes are also required in ways of thinking and in ourselves. themselves. I believe that if we had acted wisely and thoughtfully on what he said, we could have freed ourselves from our explosion of a sense of omnipotence and our delusions about the efficacy of secrecy and that we could have oriented our society toward a healthier vision of a future that Bohr became more and more dedicated to what he knew he could make international cooperation in science good communication understanding friendship reasonable institutions great goodwill his own institute in Copenhagen the small Scandinavian center called nor D temperature is located in the same building where early examples Bohr spoke of the first Athens Peace Conference, which Although somewhat modest, it was a very important start in the erosion of barriers to communication, some were proud of the fact that the only Danish contribution to the second Atoms for Peace conference was a joint document of an American and a Russian who played a very useful part not only in establishing the great nuclear laboratory for high energy physics in Geneva, but also in keeping the sound free from the provincialism of the six and the atom and free from the influence military. orientation and concern for NATO, he traveled to Russia shortly before his death, as he had thought again and again after the war, but he did not hate any message from the President of the United States to the Prime Minister of England, he traveled a lot in this country.
In England, in Israel, he had a very exhausting trip to India and in October 1961 he spoke retrospectively at the 50th anniversary of the Solvay Congress on the development of atomic physics. In June 62, in Lindau, with other Nobel Prize winners, he suffered a slight stroke. He was recovering and in October of November he recorded the first five interviews of what was to be a history of quantum physics and so, partly in his own story, he died on November 18 with the retrospective incomplete. Bohr often spoke with deep appreciation for mortality that eliminates the mistakes, failures and follies that would otherwise hinder our future that makes it possible for what we have learned and what has been proven to be passed on to the next generation on November 18 this together his son died Ora was returning with his wife from a month in China where he had been giving lectures on nuclear structure, it was much earlier, in September 1945, when Colonel Stimson left Washington forever; he was not young and he was not well; that day he was going to have a cabinet meeting in which he would add the Kate but he was delayed with Lee but very eloquently an open approach to the Russians an open and friendly approach and an open approach about the possibilities of collaborating on atomic control later that day General Marshall was planning to have all the general officers in Washington on the tarmac to salute and say goodbye to their teeth because of all this Colonel Stinson had to cut his hair and asked me to sit with him when he was in the chair of the barber when it was time to leave he said now it's in your hands poor man he never said anything like that to any of us he never needed thank you thank you for thank you for the wishes of your applause very grateful when heimer the audience has spoken for itself thank you the meeting adjourns
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