Oxford event – The Russell-Einstein Manifesto (9th March)

On 9th March 2020, University of Oxford Student/Young Pugwash (SYP) will be hosting Prof. John Finney (UCL) to discuss ‘The Russell-Einstein Manifesto: Its Origins and Legacy’

Date/Time: 9th March, 7.45pm

Location: Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Physics Dept., Clarendon Laboratory, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PU

Facebook event here

In March 1954, the US exploded the World’s first H-bomb, in what was supposed to be a secret test on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Its expected yield had been seriously underestimated, and its power of over 1,000 times that of the atom bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki surprised both the scientists involved and the military.

Among those shocked by the event was the physicist Joseph Rotblat, who had been involved in – and resigned on moral grounds from – the Manhattan Project, and the great philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell. Both recognised that these developing weapons were an existential threat.

The two met in a BBC studio and agreed that something needed to be done to waken both politicians and the public to the dangers these weapons posed. So was born the Russell-Einstein Manifesto which was signed by eleven eminent scientists, and was the last document that Einstein signed before his death.

It was launched in London in 1955, and urged governments to realise that these weapons meant that their purposes could not be furthered by a World war and that consequently they should find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute. It also put the onus on scientists to meet in conference to work towards the abolition of these weapons.

Two years later, a number of eminent scientists from both sides of what was then called the Iron Curtain, met in the Nova Scotian village of Pugwash to discuss how best to use their expertise to help solve problems raised by the development of these weapons. So was born the International Pugwash movement, which has been influential behind the scenes, for example in the development of International Arms Control measures.

This international network continues today with a widened brief to try to help resolve international conflict-related issues, as well as other threats to life on Earth. It also aims to encourage scientists to take responsibility for the consequences of their work, and to use their expertise for the benefit of, rather than the cause damage to, life on Earth.

Full Manifesto can be found here: https://pugwash.org/1955/07/09/statement-manifesto/

More information about Pugwash: https://pugwash.org/ and https://britishpugwash.org/