Physics in Perspective

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 138–149

American Physicists, Nuclear Weapons in World War II, and Social Responsibility

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00016-003-0215-6

Cite this article as:
Badash, L. Phys. perspect. (2005) 7: 138. doi:10.1007/s00016-003-0215-6
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Abstract.

Social responsibility in science has a centuries-long history, but it was such a minor thread that most scientists were unaware of the concept. Even toward the conclusion of the Manhattan Project, which produced the first nuclear weapons, only a handful of its participants had some reservations about use of a weapon of mass destruction. But the explosions over Hiroshima and Nagasaki not only made society more aware of the importance of science, they made scientists more aware of their responsibility to society. I describe the development of the concept of social responsibility and its appearance among American scientists both before and after the end of World War II.

Key words.

James FranckJ. Robert OppenheimerErnest RutherfordLeo SzilardRobert R. WilsonWorld War IIManhattan ProjectHiroshimaNagasakiatomic bombfissionnuclear weaponssocial responsibility

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA