Oral history of British science

Rotblat, Joseph (13 of 40). National Life Stories Collection: General

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  • Interviewees

    Rotblat, Joseph, 1908-2005 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Thompson, Katherine (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 13: JR's reaction to atom bomb on 6th August 1945. Traumatic effect, shock and fear about future - foresaw arms race with Russia, fear of H-bomb, threat to mankind. He felt something had to be done. Wanted moratorium on nuclear research. Talked to many people, mixed response. Biggest opposition from the "left" - Blackett etc. various arguments against moratorium. Christmas 1945 was very sad time for him for personal reasons, death of his wife and his families' history in Poland. JR made 2 decisions - (1) intends to use science for good of humans, switch to medical research and (2) use all energy to stop use of atomic bomb. But for time being JR had to continue work in Liverpool as Chadwick had left, describes his work there. JR was asked to help set up panels for development in nuclear physics, organised development of better cyclotron. Problems of health danger so used crypt of catholic cathedral! Tells story. 1947 holiday in Rome.

  • Description

    Nobel Peace Prize-winner and nuclear physicist Joseph Rotblat in conversation about his life and work. A key figure in the development of the atomic bomb, he left the US government's Manhattan Project once it became apparent that Nazi Germany did not have the capability to build a bomb of its own.

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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