Q: Did Einstein’s E = mc^2 equation
really make the atom bomb possible?
October 15, 2006
It’s probably the most famous equation of all-time. And we all know that the much-adored genius Albert Einstein was the one who whipped it up.
Yet, in the popular mind, despite the fact that many of his brilliant discoveries and positions have bettered humanity, Einstein isn’t always thought of in the most positive of light.
In fact, a great many naysayers are of the belief that it was Einstein’s discovery of E = mc^2 which made the atom bomb possible – quite an ignoble claim to fame if it were true.
Fortunately for us Einstein fanatics, it’s not true. Before his prized equation was even formulated, the discovery of radioactivity had already shown that there was a million times more energy available than in ordinary chemical reactions.
Originally posted by Spartannic
its like saying that Nobel took down the Wtc because hes part in explosion devices
On August 2, 1939, just before the beginning of World War II, Albert Einstein wrote to then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Einstein and several other scientists told Roosevelt of efforts in Nazi Germany to purify uranium-235, which could be used to build an atomic bomb. It was shortly thereafter that the United States Government began the serious undertaking known then only as "The Manhattan Project." Simply put, the Manhattan Project was committed to expediting research that would produce a viable atomic bomb.
Einstein's greatest role in the invention of the atomic bomb was signing a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt urging that the bomb be built. The splitting of the uranium atom in Germany in December 1938 plus continued German aggression led some physicists to fear that Germany might be working on an atomic bomb. Among those concerned were physicists Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner. But Szilard and Wigner had no influence with those in power. So in July 1939 they explained the problem to someone who did: Albert Einstein. According to Szilard, Einstein said the possibility of a chain reaction "never occurred to me", altho Einstein was quick to understand the concept (Clark, pg. 669+; Spencer Weart & Gertrud Weiss Szilard, eds., "Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts", pg. 83). After consulting with Einstein, in August 1939 Szilard wrote a letter to President Roosevelt with Einstein's signature on it. The letter was delivered to Roosevelt in October 1939 by Alexander Sachs, a friend of the President. Germany had invaded Poland the previous month; the time was ripe for action. That October the Briggs Committee was appointed to study uranium chain reactions.
The atomic bomb related work that Einstein did was very limited and he completed it in two days during December 1941. Vannevar Bush, who was coordinating the scientific work on the a-bomb at that time, asked Einstein's advice on a theoretical problem involved in separating fissionable material by gaseous diffusion. But Bush and other leaders in the atomic bomb project excluded Einstein from any other a-bomb related work. Bush didn't trust Einstein to keep the project a secret: "I am not at all sure... [Einstein] would not discuss it in a way that it should not be discussed." (Clark, pg. 684-685; G. Pascal Zachary, "Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century", pg. 204).
Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
There is no blame to be attached to the development of technology. The blame is to be attached to its use.