, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 136-156

A Physicist in the Corridors of Power: P. M. S. Blackett's Opposition to Atomic Weapons Following the War

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Fear, War and the Bomb

. Blackett had been a naval officer during the First World War, a veteran of Ernest Rutherford's Cavendish Laboratory and head of the physics department at Manchester in the interwar years, and he was a founder of operational research during the Second World War. Vilified in the British and American press in the 1940s and 1950s, he continued to contest prevailing nuclear weapons strategy, finding a more favorable reception for his arguments by the early 1960s. This paper examines the publication and reception of Blackett's views on atomic weapons, analyzing the risks to a physicist who writes about a subject other than physics, as well as the circumstances that might compel one to do so.