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Science Goes to War István Hargittai Budapest University of Technology and Economics Hungarian Academy of Sciences World Science Forum, Budapest, November.

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Presentation on theme: "Science Goes to War István Hargittai Budapest University of Technology and Economics Hungarian Academy of Sciences World Science Forum, Budapest, November."— Presentation transcript:

1 Science Goes to War István Hargittai Budapest University of Technology and Economics Hungarian Academy of Sciences World Science Forum, Budapest, November 10, 2005

2 Dedication to the five “Martians” Theodore von Kármán ( ) Leo Szilard ( ) Eugene P. Wigner ( ) John von Neumann ( ) Edward Teller ( )

3 Leo Szilard, 1963 Is it the tragedy of the scientist that he is able to bring about great advances of our knowledge, which mankind may then proceed to use for purposes of destruction? This is not the tragedy of the scientist; It is the tragedy of mankind.

4 Five Stages of Szilard’s Concerns Initiation of the Manhattan Project (1939) to counterweigh possible German A-bomb Suggestion to use the A-bomb in WWII (1944) Attempts to stop deployment of A-bomb (1945) Caution to counterweigh Soviet H-bomb (1949) Activities to reduce tension between the Superpowers and to curb the arms race (1950s-1960s)

5 True Einstein gave up his pacifism, when the Nazi danger loomed over the world, and Szilard initiated Einstein’s letter to President Roosevelt in fear of the German bomb. Then, world-renowned physicists toiled for the success of the Manhattan Project.

6 False Heisenberg falsified history when he claimed moral superiority for his failed attempt to build an atomic bomb for Hitler’s Germany for which he had volunteered.

7 Nazi “Science” Involvement of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Kaiser Wilhelm Society in Auschwitz and other crimes

8 Henry Moore, Nuclear Energy

9 Eugene P. Wigner and István Hargittai in Austin, Texas, 1969 from chemical engineer to ivory-tower theoretical physicist to activist in initiating the Manhattan Project to the world’s first nuclear engineer to promoter of civil defense Eugene P. Wigner, “the conscience of the Manhattan Project” [Szilárd]

10 The Tragedy of Hiroshima

11 Philip Anderson Nobel Laureate said in 1999 I’m not one of those who feel guilt about dropping the atomic bombs on Japan. … I was conscious of Nanking, and the Japanese behavior in China and Korea was a horrible thing, unbelievably savage.... And I’m not sympathetic to the Germans about Dresden. “He that soweth the wind shall reap the whirlwind.”

12 H-Bomb Debate U.S.A., 1949 Oppenheimer et al.: “… In determining not to proceed to develop the super bomb, we see a unique opportunity of providing by example some limitations on the totality of war …” Fermi and Rabi: “… invite the nations of the world to join us in a solemn pledge not to proceed in the development or construction of weapons of this category …”

13 “The Soviet physicists justified their participation in the nuclear project by the necessity of counterweighing the American monopoly. …” Vitaly Ginzburg Nobel Laureate said in 2004 “It is the luck of humankind that Stalin and Hitler did not possess atomic bombs first.”

14 Leo Szilard on the Development of the American H-Bomb According to Szilard, the U.S. might have missed out on the H-bomb, had it not been that there was still one man left [Edward Teller] who thought about the problems of the bomb.

15 Edward Teller: Savior or Villain? “Father” of the [American] hydrogen bomb Initiator of Livermore Adversary of Robert Oppenheimer “Dr. Strangelove” Advocate of Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”)

16 MAD Mutually Assured Destruction then could be considered an assurance for peace between the superpowers for decades. … atomic energy … may intimidate the human race into bringing order into its international affairs, which, without the pressure of fear, it would not do. (Einstein, November 1945)

17 Theodore von Kármán “…you cannot preach international cooperation and disarmament from a position of weakness. My Old Testament faith tells me that to get one’s point across it is best to have a big stick. You don’t have to use it, but you’re freer to talk without interference.”

18 SDI (Star Wars) Reagan was enamored with SDI, but few would disagree that it greatly contributed to the demise of the Soviet Union.

19 The Responsibility of the Scientist Oppenheimer to Teller in 1945: leave it to the politicians Khrushchev to Sakharov in 1961: leave it to the politicians

20 Weapons of Biotechnology It will be a different weapon It can change what it means to be human It will make it possible to manipulate all of the life processes, including cognition, development, reproduction, inheritance, etc., … Weapons of biotechnology have not yet been developed Matthew Meselson

21 Openness and Self-restraint Openness in scientific research may be a remedy If legitimate places do not develop weapons of biotechnology, that in itself decreases the probability illegitimate development But: Banning research is not an answer, especially when research under controlled environment may then be moved to places where control is not available

22 NO to the proliferation of nuclear weapons (North Korea, Iran) to chemical and biological weapons to weapons of biotechnology YES to broad-based science education to an informed public

23 Science Goes to Peace


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