Schedule Apr 27, 2005
Albert Einstein the Peacenik
Dr. Lawrence Badash, UCSB

A KITP public lecture co-sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Before World War II, scientists rarely spoke out on public issues, and then nearly always limited themselves to matters having a technical component. Albert Einstein, almost alone, pioneered a new relationship between scientists and society. He consciously used his professional fame to promote his often-unpopular views. These included criticism (while living in Germany) of Germany's role in World War I, support of pacifism, anti-militarism, defense of socialism and to a degree the behavior of the Soviet Union, opposition to Hitler, condemnation of America's use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, encouragement of a powerful world government, censure of the Joseph McCarthy-era restraints on freedom of speech, and disapproval of racism. Scientific expertise was of no value in most of these cases, yet Einstein's words were taken seriously and reached a large audience. For his efforts, he was threatened with assassination several times, was in danger of deportation from the United States, and accumulated a huge FBI file. He even was denied security clearance to work on the WWII atomic bomb project. Einstein's courage in his public activities ran on a track parallel to the boldness of his scientific work.
Lawrence Badash received a BS in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1956, and a PhD in history of science from Yale University in 1964. He is Professor Emeritus of History of Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he taught for thirty-six years. He has been a NATO Postdoctoral Science Fellow at Cambridge University, a Guggenheim Fellow, Visiting Professor of International Studies at Meiji Gakuin University in Yokohama, Director of the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation's Summer Seminar on Global Security and Arms Control, a lecturer on the nuclear arms race at the Inter-University Center of Postgraduate Studies in Dubrovnik, Croatia, a Council member of the History of Science Society, a Member-at-Large of the Section on History and Philosophy of Science of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Forum on Physics and Society of the American Physical Society. Badash is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

His research is centered on the physical sciences of the past century, especially the development of radioactivity and nuclear physics; on the role of scientists in the nuclear arms race; and on the interaction of science and society. Badash has authored or edited six books, including Radioactivity in America, Kapitza, Rutherford and the Kremlin, Scientists and the Development of Nuclear Weapons, and Reminiscences of Los Alamos 1943-1945. He is currently finishing a book on the science and politics of the nuclear winter phenomenon.

Audio of Introduction by M.Einhorn, D.Weston and W.Kohn.

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Author entry (protected)