Einstein Signs a Letter 2 Years After Hiroshima, Making an "Urgent Appeal for the Necessity of Effective International Control of Atomic Energy"
Item Number: 14951
Famed physicist responsible for the Theory of Relativity. 1 page Typed Letter Signed on Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists letterhead and dated October 9, 1947. The Committee, which Einstein had founded in 1946 along with Leo Szilard, was an immediate response to the use of atomic bombs at Hirpshima and Nagasaki. Committee members included an array of physicists and scientists, most of whom had been involved in the Manhattan Project and were alarmed by its destructive outcomes. Einstein and Szilard aimed to warn the public of the dangers associated with the international development of nuclear weapons, and they promoted the peaceful use of nuclear energy. World peace, they asserted, was the only condition under which atomic energy could and should be used. In the months leading up to founding the committee,Szilard had generated a petition to President Truman opposing the use of the atomic bomb on moral grounds; among the signers, Einstein himself expressed a sense of responsibility in this matter of the bombings, given that his work had assisted in unharnessing the massive power of the atom.
Corresponding with Dr. Donald Kundiger, a chemist and supporter of the Committee, Einstein writes in part:
“I have received with pleasure your generous answer to my letter enclosing the recent Statement of the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists with it urgent appeal for the necessity of effective international control of atomic energy. Thank you for your continued help in our campaign to arouse the American people to an understanding of the present very serious situation. An article by Cord Meyer in a recent issue of the Atlantic Monthly develops further some of the topics touched upon in our Statement. If you have not seen Mr. Meyer’s article, I think you will be interested in the enclosed reprint.”
Einstein's infamous formula E=mc2 played an important role in the story of nuclear fission research and its resulting bomb. While Einstein's formula does not explain why the nuclear binding energies are as large as they are, but it opens up one way to measure these binding energies. With this realization, and his fear of the work being done in Nazi Germany, Einstein helped set into motion the political process that culminated in the Manhattan project - the development, construction and testing of the first nuclear bombs. Notably, some scientists involved in the project did not fully realize what they were creating. Yet Einstein and collaborator Szilard were aware, and it was Szilard who in 1945 had generated a petition urging President Harry S. Truman to consider an observed demonstration of the power of the atomic bomb prior to releasing it on cities and using it against people. The petition never made it to Truman's desk, and was not even declassified until 1961; and the use of the atomic bomb went ahead, ending World War II. Einstein foresaw the spread of atomic energy and feared what would happen when other nations gained access to atomic weapons, as the Soviet Union would do only two years later in 1949. Thus Einstein became a critical and vocal advocate for controlling atomic energy internationally.
Einstein's Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists worked to solicit private donations in order that the contributions it received might be devoted to other groups interested in the field of atomic information and education as well as the National Committee for Atomic Information. Dr. Kundiger, to whom Einstein writes, was a contributor of both funds and key contacts for the group, even at this early stage. As the letter shows, Einstein took a very hands on approach with such contributors, and he moves beyond simply thanking Kundiger in order to engage him in an exchange of timely articles surrounding the political and scientific states of atomic energy. An important historical document that reveals Einstein's personal and professional commitment to the international control and peaceful use of atomic energy. Framed and matted with a portrait and plaque to an overall size of 25 x 21.5". In very good condition.