Oral history of British science

Rotblat, Joseph (15 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 15: A memoranda was prepared on international control on all aspects of atomic work, peaceful and military, based on an idea by Niels Bohr.A similar body was set up in the United States with similar conclusions but one vital change: they removed veto from United Nations. In the U.K. a different plan was developed excluding atomic weapons. Continuation of plan to educate the public, had exhibition on nuclear energy and also had travelling exhibition the 'atom train'. Government supplied loan. Many people came with children, also had lectures and guide book - all was great success. Later taken over by UNESCO, train went to Europe and Beirut, technical problems that developed were solved by JR. Train on to Egypt, Iraque, Scandinavia, Niels Bohr opened it in Copenhagen. In 1951 JR went to Conference in U.S.A. - had visa trouble (the Fuchs affair came out in 1950) Fuchs was on the Rusian declassification committee in U.K. J.R. thinks that Fuchs did more damage than the Rosenbergs. But the Soviets knew about work here already pre-war. JR wanted links with Americans and also Soviet scientists but for that they had to wait until Stalin's death. JR had offer to be research director for UNESCO but did not take it. In 1948 he received offer of chair in Poland, but decided on medical research work in order to be free of duties of chair.

  • 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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