(AV00939) Forty years after Hiroshima: Ames and the Manhattan Project.

Posted by


I’m to be from the Catholic Student Center one of the groups that is that is cosponsoring this this far conference on 40 years after Hiroshima. Lessons for the future. We’re glad to have this number of people up for this. Second of all of our six presentations during these these two days on 40 years after Hiroshima. This one o’clock Peter Ryan spoke with scientists shaping history giving an explanation of the Manhattan Project and some of its consequences for day. This evening. Dr. Franklin Wong who has been involved in assisting in the talks resulting in limited test ban treaty. We’ll be speaking in Curtis Hall in Curtis auditorium when advancing technology barriers to arms control. Tomorrow three of the best the events open in the south ballroom which is right behind you at noon. Dr. Kurt from the Los Alamos National Laboratory will speak on the role of armaments in the nuclear age. At 4 o’clock Alan Guyer a religious ethicist will speak on the nuclear ethics and human destiny. And in the evening there will be a panel with Alan Geier Don Ker and Dr. Long. When I look to your future that should be quite an exciting event with James candid from the registry moderators. I want to thank you all for coming. You’ll also want to thank all those those groups were involved in this process including the committee elections the Stanley Foundation the religious studies program many ministries and Higher Education Campus Ministries association the physics department and Ames lab. I’d like to introduce for this section Owens in the Manhattan Project reflections I did find items from the Department of Philosophy he will introduce and will moderate the panel. Thanks very much. It’s nice to see everybody here. Our procedure this afternoon will be to give each member of the panel. Well we we really don’t have much choice they insist upon it each. Each of these distinguished gentleman will have an opportunity 10 to 12 minutes to make an individual autobiographical statement about their past involvement with the Manhattan Project. In that statement there will be a number of reflective comments made which we hope to develop further into discussion that will follow the third presentation by the junior member of our panel Dave Peterson. On my far left. Let me introduce them. So there should be plenty of opportunity for discussion in the format that we have we don’t have to end our discussion until around 5 o’clock. The first speaker this afternoon is Professor Adolph Voight who’s been at Iowa State for a number of years. He’s a Californian born there. Way back when he has a very lovely wife who was here this afternoon that I know very well. They’re one of those elegant faculty teams that all universities thrive on having about Adolph did his undergraduate work at Pomona and did his M.A. at Claremont and then eventually went on to the University of Michigan where he took his Ph.D. in 1941 after a brief teaching stint at Smith College. He became associated in 1942 with the Manhattan Project here at Iowa State which was then Iowa State College. Over the years he’s held a number of important positions in association with the university and the Ames lab as a director and as a scientist. And he currently holds the status of Professor Emeritus of chemistry since 1982. As you can imagine he and his colleagues have all kinds of awards and distinctions in their professional histories. They are first class scientists and first class citizens of the university community. After everything is over you will have an opportunity I think to see an interesting interplay of three personality scientists coming in the same general context having what I found to be yesterday and discussing things with them rather interesting and differing kinds of perspectives on things. Our second speaker will be Norm Carlson who was on my immediate left. Norm King too well norm is from South Dakota. He did his undergraduate work at Yankton. He came to Iowa State University and finished PHC in 1950. Like Adolf he has a number of distinctions and honors in his professional history. He’s been associated with the university in a variety of capacities and worked in a number of different ways I think. Let’s see. Yes. In 1960 he became a professor of metallurgy and he a senior metallurgist with the Ames lab. And he’s currently very active in his research. He’s also had a number of prominent students are a third speaker will be Dave Peterson the junior member of our panel. Dave is from an interesting place in Minnesota Blue Earth Minnesota. It’s a nice little town. He’s married to Joanne Cole Peterson. Very nice person. He came to Iowa State in 1941 and following full time research work on the atom bomb project. He eventually completed his bachelor’s degree in 1947 and finished a HD and chemistry in 1950. As is true of his colleagues he has a number of distinctions and awards to his credit. He is currently an active researcher and just at the present time a senior metallurgist and Professor associated with the Ames lab. As I said earlier each member of the panel will make a sort of an autobiographical statement describing their involvement with the Manhattan Project and then we’ll have an opportunity following those individual statements to engage in a discussion with all three. Adolph wanted to kill him before I begin anything autobiographical. I would like to talk a little bit about the history of the science behind the atomic bomb in the years preceding Hiroshima and preceding the Manhattan Project itself. This science was very largely a European science starting with the discovery of radioactivity in 1895 by on Rebekah Rell a Frenchman some of the greatest advances in this field and subject remained almost directly after that by Rees Verdasco Curie and her husband P. Arcuri. She was a Polish chemist working in Paris. Her husband was a French physicist and together they did a tremendous body of work in separating out the various materials which are found with uranium and which are highly radioactive and about that same I’m a New Zealander named Ernest Rutherford started doing similar work. He was particularly responsible for determining what the radiations were of the alpha beta and gamma rays which come up with radioactive material. He did this work in Canada and in and in England. He also identified some of the other radioactive elements. You are also all aware of the fact that the science of getting energy out of mass depends upon a particular equation stated first by Albert Einstein in nineteen five. Of course Albert Einstein was a German physicist and he proposed the equivalence of mass and energy at that time. And showed that a very small amount of mass gives rise to a very large amount of energy. 1912. Ernest Rutherford was again very productive and demonstrated that the atom has a small heavy nucleus about one ten thousand the radius of the atom itself and Niels Bois the Danish physicist showed how structure such a structure can exist and we still make use of the rather very poor picture of the atom. In nineteen eleven and twelve Frederic Saadi who was English and causing me to find a peculiar chain reaction was was possible. It was also found that the rare form of uranium uranium 235 was the one responsible for fusion by slow neutrons and that the products of this vision were highly radioactive. The rest of the period then from 1939 to 1941 was the period in which the US was becoming more and more involved to a letter written by Einstein to Franklin Roosevelt. That led him in 1939 to get a program started in the field and that then kept on until 1941 when the experiments were done which would showed that things were going to be feasible to go ahead with the with the projects that were done at the time. A tremendous thing was it was fairly clear but the impetus to getting together and working on it in view of the fact that the science so much of the science had been previous science had been done in Germany. The impetus to getting at it and seeing to it that that we if Hitler and his scientists in Germany produced this and turned it over to the Third Reich that that was balanced by our also being able to to counteract that this was a tremendous impetus daughter doing things even though they were not exactly in all this diversity of opinions. I do not recall any discussions regarding the feasibility or the importance of what we were doing. There seemed to be a unanimous unanimity of opinion that what we were doing was right that England would and should be used. And I remember I had a circle I right and at least there were very. There were just no discussions of whether we should or shouldn’t and so on. Such as apparently a happiness probably marshmallow in Los Alamos and other places don’t know what that says about us but I guess it says something. My reactions on August 6 were one of elation. I must say. And at the end of the war a kind of jubilation when the Japanese surrendered as was the mood of the nation at that time I think we felt like heroes. Maybe that may seem strange today but I think at the time we did feel like we had performed a very important and valuable mission for our country. The analysis I think I understand is you have to understand the mood the national mood. There was a war weariness. People want to get the thing over with and get back to normal back to school and back driving cars and all that stuff. That was the mood of the country as a whole. And it’s the same I think you see it in any war in any bit of war the last say moved it happened the Civil War people life property becomes secondary to getting anything out of the way of getting it over with. We saw this in World War One and I think the Vietnam War shows that showed us what happens when you have a long war goes too long. People get weary they begin to think life is cheap. We were inured I think to death and destruction had become so we’d seen death camps and death marches. We’ve seen flame throwers and kamikaze attacks terror raids firestorms. We read about the firestorm in Dresden that killed over 50000 thousand people just from a single bombing raid. Eighty thousand people on one mass air raid in Japan and seemingly these kind of massive things apparently had little to do with even shortening the war by one day. Looking back on it and at least the bomb didn’t stop the killing and I think that was sort of the the mood at the time. I suppose you might say the feeling that this started with surprise at Pearl Harbor it was only natural that it should end with a surprise at Hiroshima. I think looking back over the 40 years I would say it would definitely be difficult even today for me to second guess President Truman on the decision to use the bomb in the war. President Truman in my view was a very human and humane president. Perhaps the most humane humane president we’ve had in my opinion in the years that I’ve been on this earth so I have respect for the man and the decisions. I think that the some people have felt he should be ran as a war criminal. I would have to say that it would have been a greater act of criminality had he chosen to sacrifice thousands maybe a hundred thousands of lives in an attack. In Japan and not have used the bomb to him in the words of Churchill if and I think it would sum up the view of many of the people who were waiting Marines soldiers were waiting for that invasion. And I talked to many people and some of you who were in that we’ve been on that those first waves on the attack. That was to come later that fall. It was a miracle of deliverance. And even I think even though they may not realize at the time it was an American deliverance for the Japanese soldiers and flyers and many of it most of the Japanese civilians of course for the people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki it was not an American deliverance it was a Holocaust. My job in the intervening 40 40 years I suppose if anything has changed in my view it is a greater skepticism about the infallibility of national leaders and Mr. lighting I think reflected on some of my views on that point as well. We’ve seen it I think we’ve grown skeptical about the national leadership not only from this incident but from Vietnam and Watergate not Iran and Lebanon and Lebanon and even in Central America we perhaps don’t believe our leaders what they tell us as much as we did back in my generation when I was younger I think living in Germany has given me a little different insight. It’s it’s kind of strange to sit and talk to friends and and have them describe the bombing took place on a certain day and stood guard from the very house and very community we’re sitting in. We were living it at the time and hear their reaction to the bombing in a very dispassionate sort of conversation. And to engage in conversation with people who were on the other side and who were supposedly you know those bad guys and when you get to know them they’re they’re good guys. They’re good people something that people who you learned to love and that is give me an insight I think it was the opportunity I had a couple of summers ago to visit the nuclear test facility there in a little town in Swedish town hydrologic where the Germans were conducted their first test reactor. They had little tubes of uranium about two inches on the side I think there were 300 he’s cute. Everyone change down in a tank and in the tank was filled with heavy water. My German companion says there is the world’s first chain reactor. The. They were. PETER RYAN said they were they had gotten nowhere. They weren’t even where we were in the space parts of Chicago in 1941. And in fact as he said they were not even working on the bomb. They were trying to develop a reactor which later was the one that was built at Karlsruhe based on the same model. Thinking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki I. This one does give me pause. I guess the question I have to ask is What was the hurry. The Japanese clearly were no essentially threat to us any longer. Their navy and their air force was pretty important and we knew that they were not in danger. They weren’t even working on an atom bomb and we were concerned about rockets. The only thing we had and they had plenty this was a spirit to hold out and fight and their soldiers in them and theirs and their flight were very still very determined for us and I don’t know whether I agree they were quite ready to quit or not but I guess the question is whether whether whether such a hurry in enlarging the attack that we could not have considered and should not have considered perhaps it would be a demonstration approach or if you like picking if you want. If you don’t want to disappear demonstration why pick a time in a hundred thousand a town of ten thousand or ten thousand with the power to make the same point. After all we didn’t bomb Japan which would have probably taken five thousand people out in a single blast. So I think that that one was is one point in which I would I would question the wisdom of our leaders but I think that and I think I feel that the second bomb Nagasaki was unconscionable. It all happened only two days after the first one and the Russians had declared war. That same afternoon and does seem that a little time to find a reaction and get the impact of all this might have saved at least a second bomber. But then there is the old adage in war you know when you and Grant believe it is you know when you have them down start on or Sherman says you are a person. And I guess that’s the mood of the military when you have somebody on the run. You use everything you can to bring it to a conclusion. I’d like to tell us on a note of hope. I’ve spent my entire professional career in field and atomic energy and I’d hate to think that was truly a waste. And in fact I don’t I I believe that the Lord God when he learned that his creation and said that it was good including nuclear energy in that good and I believe that the time will come when we will see that nuclear energy is a blessing can be a blessing to mankind. Unfortunately our dreams for peaceful uses have kind of waxed and waned in the last 40 years. And the nuclear or the military and destructive elements have kind of taken ascendancy but I am hopeful that someday we will. Far too late we will come to our senses. The leaders of the nations why I believe so because we have to end once we have the we have that off our backs. People will begin to see that nuclear power can be safe and clean and a true clean clean and safe alternative to fossil fuels which I feel are one of the real dangers to our plant and animal life in the northern hemisphere today. Care about North. Let’s turn now to Dave. Dave before I can get very involved in telling about how I became interested and participating in the project here at age I thought I’d spend just a little time telling quiet a little bit of background about why there was a project Europeans and tracing this back. Basically there was a project here that games because Dr. FH bedding was here at Ames. So we had to go back a step further and ask Well now why does Dr. FH bedding here at age he was born in Michigan. He was trained in California. And to go from Michigan to California and back to. This part of the Midwest is not unusual right. Even back then it wasn’t when spending was here because he enjoyed the island states back in 1937. The only reason that he was able to do that is because Dr. Hayes had left rather precipitously to take a two industrial job with the Army Cold Steel and spending was available. He was a very well established scientist but due to something which we haven’t seen for a long time namely a gross oversupply of well-trained scientists. Although he was a well established and well world famous scientist he was still looking for a permanent academic position. He joined the staff here Then in 1937. He became involved in the Manhattan Project which had no direct connection with age because he had done some research during his period of activity on the rare earth elements and a person that knew something about the rare earth. And nobody bothered much to do much chemistry on the rivers. He was one of a very small number of people that knew anything about it. Somebody of this background was needed on the project because some of the fish and products of the vision of uranium were apparently rare earth elements and also plutonium which was known in 1941. A new and unknown element they knew nothing of the chemistry of it and they expected it to be something similar to the rare chemical and physical metallurgical properties. So that’s why spending became involved. Shortly after this involvement which consisted primarily is traveling into Chicago and supervising a group of people there the need for a much larger supply of pure uranium metal that became obvious and spending knew that there was some metallurgical equipment out here. Ames which was available so on the basis of that project to develop a faster process of making uranium casting it into desired change. Big change was initiated and very quickly it was successful and a simple cheap process was available in a matter of just months. Iowa State University had the necessary equipment and had the necessary people. And so the project was here. The equipment that was here had been used incidentally rather extensively by Dr Hayes who was the fellow that left here and thereby left an opening for spending to come. So what you see in the lives of individual people and there is an enormous role played by chance. I think that there is a much smaller role for chance in the collective history and the collective actions and the things that go on with human beings then how did I happen to join the project. Well in the last things in the fall quarter and forty two I had a problem. I had two quarters to finish before getting my bachelor’s in chemistry but the money I had saved during the summer work in the Saw Mill was just about gone. If I dropped out of school to get more money to go on I would be a profit and drafted and if I didn’t drop out of school and go to work I would starve to death because in those days there were very very few student funds available for loans or scholarships before this problem had to really be resolved. I was invited into Dr. spending’s office and offered the job and what he said was a very vital national defense project and this seemed like the ideal way an ideal solution and a chance to make some money so I finished my degree without before I would be drafted. So I said yes. What did I do. My role here was primarily as a foreman and an assistant foreman and a foreman on the crew of people who were making uranium metal. And I worked on that for about two years. The shortage of uranium was holding up very crucial experiments and the fueling of some reactors that we were given this pressure to produce we. This was during a period of war. It was 1942 and something which all too often we had forgotten. Those of us that can remember back is that in 1942. We didn’t know who was going to win the war. In fact it was still pretty iffy as to whether it was going to be the third reich or whether it would be the advertised allies. And so there was enormous pressure to get things going. And I heard a sense of urgency based on the need to do this for national survival and perhaps more than national survival. I think probably something close to survival of civilization as we know it today. Another thing that some of us have forgotten and we need to be occasionally remembered. Reminded. Is that in 1942 we were fighting against two of the most fanatical movements that the world has ever known. Who were able to mobilize people nice people as Dr. Carson said you come to love them as individuals but collectively as a group. The third reich fought until there was no longer any hope of military. Success stalemate or anything else and kept on fighting almost until they were broken into a dozen pieces without any significant change in their dedication to fighting the same thing was true out of the Japanese war effort. It was even in the latter days in the six month period before the bomb was dropped. The Japanese dedication to fighting to almost the last man had not wavered at all. So that we were fighting against a very tough. Movement and a 50 year period of ascendancy of the third Reich would surely have changed civilization in Europe beyond almost anything else that we can comprehend. So we were. Being pushed. We felt an urgency. We worked 24 hours a day in three shifts so we didn’t all have to work that long seven days a week and all holidays. In those days there was a large shell loading plant down a tank. There was also a rule that anyone who was not quite fit for the army and who wasn’t involved in war and work of the automatically drafted anyhow this was to make sure that people would go to work places like taking the project here at age. Never had that authority to grant a limited deferment for working there. And so we’ve got only people who were obviously unfit for the army either by age or infirmity and who also were not able to pass them with the qualifications for getting into thinking we had some people who were passionate 70 and one of the jobs of the foreman. Very often turned out to be more. He was hired for his technical know how. He was more often useful because he could do some of the heavy lifting that no one else. Could. In a few months we produced two million pounds of uranium which had never been made on a large scale before. Urgent need for the metal evaded and commercial plants took over. And then attention turned into another metallurgical problems in the expected peaceful uses of atomic power to wrap up I’d like to make two observations. First of all the Manhattan Project was a large effort. It was primarily a development effort. It was not primarily a research effort. The research knowledge was already in place and was not all available but enough so that what we needed to do was to take existing knowledge and existing technology and apply it to a very large scale process. The action of any one individual scientist in either choosing to participate or not participate in this effort would have made no difference at all. And the net effect and given the collective decision by some large group industrially based group of people the development of the atomic bomb was possible and could not have been stopped. Like any individual decisions. The other thing that looking back in those days there was. Although times were tried by forty five and forty six there was a great deal more optimism about peace. We had great hopes for the United Nations the Soviet Union was considered as a peace loving nation by almost everyone in the United States. There was a profound distrust of U.S. generals and the military establishment in the United States. The thing that I see today is that there is a rather profound pessimism about peace. The United Nations is becoming nearly forgotten. U.S. Soviet relationships are competitive and distrustful and there still is a very profound distrust of U.S. generals and the United States military establishment. Thank you very much David. Now it’s your turn and the listening audience to join in because there’s someone who’d like to make a comment or put a question to one of our panelists. Yes you mentioned something about that. That has a scientist here into games that you are aware of that could make the uranium metal was being. Used to rap with a panther. Were you also aware of that kind of Los Alamos Oak Ridge. Obviously she probably knew about Berkeley etc.. Were you aware of the total picture of what was going on towards the development of the bomb. Yes I think we were all not just being used to have his weekly get togethers and then and we would they would explain what what’s going on we knew the alternate approaches the one you would create. We would primarily hear things associated with the plutonium approach and that’s why we happened. I thought I knew more about that but certainly the media if you were to guess just a fusion approach of concentrating the isotopes the the or the mass spectrograph coated with flesh or went around these approaches and it turns out incidentally that all these approaches were successful to one degree or another. All four approaches that we’re trying to either concentrate on isotope or to get out. Tony you were successful and could have been used to build a bomb. In fact the one that the first one on Hiroshima was a uranium bomb which was from the concentration of the gases fuse if we would. Yes I think we were aware of the technology. I don’t think that I was not at least the technology of the development of the bomb itself. How was how was put together that that would take them by surprise. I didn’t know about it until the rest of the world. Adolph you were stating saying was possible. I think not. I think one point that Norm made that I like to bolster is the fact that these various methods of getting the nuclear material for a bomb were were all successful and hence there’s every there were at that time it was ever more reason to believe that the German scientists and German technologists were we’re not very far behind obviously finding out that they were that far behind is an extreme surprise. No other question. Jack you’ve had your hands full. I was wondering yet if somebody were to back off or are registered. Some sort of discontent under these circumstances this is a time of war. I assume that they would have been dealt the threat of treason wouldn’t it be considered treason. Under those circumstances. I don’t think so Jack the answer our speaker earlier mentioned there was a large group at the University of Chicago who had signed petitions requesting that they put a display a demonstration bomb be used rather than the bomb on on a city and there were similar groups in other parts of the of the project at that time and I don’t think anybody ever considered that they were that they were treasonous because they proposed such a different approach. I know that your speech was the position of the U.S. command at the time. I mean I understand that you mentioned Harry Truman and the demonstration probably was a key thing you’re in engineering the ideas you’re making. And. This I guess became public knowledge. I don’t know whether his particular ideas were a part of that. He was no longer at the latter part of the war. He was no longer a part of the strong effort being directed this way. Another question yes. First I’d like to say that I’m out of my flat. Let me emphasize real people. I mean it’s all in might begin with that out of my account with respect to an individual as to what direct actions and what direct acts they participate in here and here. There are certain things which are. Fairly easy to agree upon as being allowable and disallow in terms of dealing with other human beings. When we start to go through a collective action of human beings then we get into an entirely different set of values in which things become murky. And for example warfare itself if it is carried out between two individuals is an unethical act on the part of both of them. If they are both using deadly force. What we do not universally recognized this as being unethical in the case of armies in combat. And so that I think there are two ways in which we have to address this problem. And. The bigger problem is not the actions and decisions of individual scientists. I think the biggest problem is that we as groups of individuals have not yet answered and mapped some of the very real problems not in the field so much of science and ethics as in the area of an everyday group interaction and. That’s a tough one. I don’t know how we’re going to how we’re going to deal with that unless we deal with it. There is indeed a reason for great pessimism in our in our. In the world ahead. I think I’ll quit. I don’t want. To. Go ahead. I would like to add a kind of a footnote to your reaction to famine and add that after the war when the American troops had come into into a hybrid of operators test reactor was the German science hole Heisenberg and the autobahn in another way were. Taken by religion. And I was going to a farm home in England where they were held and their room was held at the time the bomb was dropped in their home on August 6th. The reactions of those German scientists were recorded and I don’t have a reaction and I think it was an honest one. It was one of many very one hundred thousand people have been killed and he has his first reaction was I am responsible and I you felt like committing suicide. And his next reaction was to turn him away and weren’t right and Weinberger’s say see the Americans beat you. Your second class Adolf let’s take it down a little more personal level. How do you see the problem of dealing with the ethical implications of your decision to go ahead and become a member of a team of the project which from the standpoint of nuclear chemistry you understood fairly well. I would say that given the circumstances of the war and knowing what I did about the knowledge of the process of vision in Germany I did not consider that that this was too unethical a thing for a previous pacifist to have done it. I think it was obvious that at the time I made that decision. I decided that I no longer claim that I was a pacifist but the idea that has been alluded to before that such a device could get in the hands of Hitler was just beyond imagination in terms of what my own response in general I would say that I don’t say that one can make any kind of rules for somebody else above the ethics of getting into a particular scientific endeavor which may have serious consequences. You can make the decision yourself but you certainly can’t say that for somebody else that’s the wrong thing to do. It has to be a personal yes. Well let me bring this up to date right now on a lot of capital. Now there are groups of students who argue with other students at formal meetings urging graduates to teach these taught not to go to work or military oriented companies like General and let me ask two questions. The three of you supposing a student came to you and said Look I’ve got a pretty good offer from General Dynamics or whatever to work on a military project should I take it or not. What would you say. Let me repeat the question. The question is if this young student aspiring scientist came to give you one and all three of you to ask the following question I’ve got an opportunity to go to work for a firm that’s associated with producing weaponry or materials related to defense and offense in the area of military armament. What would you respond to this too. Should they or should they not use their science on behalf of such projects. They will go with you first. You can. I’ve thought about that for a long time because during the period from about 1936 to well past 1939 I was an ardent and adamant pacifist. I believe that all wars were fought for the Equal Pay of selfish empire such as the British and the French Empire. I looked upon the German correction of some of their historical national boundaries as being really something which was not too long and reasonable and merely refreshing some of the. Inequities of the Versailles Treaty when you start out with that back then and then go through the experience from 1939 to 1945 it would be a disclosure after the war. Not very of the horrors of the Holocaust and see the persistence of the Third Reich and as its military and political institutions even when the Third Reich was cut into five or six pieces. You then see that the question is is is not just a question of intent. And for example if the United States had been better prepared if we had brought more guns than butter in 1940 we perhaps could have liberated part of the homeland before another million people died. Those of us who politically Leonard are influenced to postpone ponying argument and postpone pointing and the liberation of some of and those places in a way contributed to that. And so that good intentions in this imperfect world are not enough. We don’t need any children’s crusade. The military is no worse than the people that make the decision that sends of into action and at least in our country we are liked in our perhaps somewhat imperfect elections but we elect in elections and those who represent the will of the people and the principles of democracy I think are something that are very dear to me. Norm would you like to replace Well I guess my comment on your question Dr. Long is unfortunately that for most of the jobs are today and for students coming in saying you know I’ve got a job offer from General Dynamics and someplace else and I say well for us we haven’t done enough. So it’s a it’s a tough question. I think I would be very reluctant to encourage the student to take a job in an area where they might express to me some reservations about work. I think my advice would probably would certainly be to them wait to see if something better wouldn’t turn up. But I don’t think I can in good conscience also tell a student. That’s a that’s a bad place to work. I’m going to work for dinner and I think they may cruise missiles. I think that’s too much of individual judgment there’s some people think Cruise missiles are. You know. That’s what’s good about our defense industry and item. You’ve asked a very difficult question. Thanks. My maiden voyage. I guess I could just echo what Norman said. It depends so much of one person himself. If the student has reservations about it I would not be a little those reservations if he really wants to discuss it and feel that this is a serious problem with him. I would certainly agree that he ought to wait around a little while and see whether whether something comes up that would put him in a an industry that wasn’t as highly involved in weapons. If I may I’d like to embellish a little bit on Professor Long question bringing you up to date in another way as the three of you look back and you recall you probably all did notice these three gentlemen were rather young at the time even younger than I am now. It would seem it seems to me one area in which reflection has been going on and from which something good might come that’s useful in our present circumstance could be brought in the following way if the three of you were asked to reflect upon your experience as a research scientist not only at that time but coming forward from the point of forty two on what kinds of recommendations might you make about the character of the educational system within which scientists are developed in our society. Would you advocate anything be modified concerning the general education that we developed for our students especially with regard to the character of the scientist that we develop in that general content. Adolph wanted to stay. I guess I would think that. I’m. Not not sure how you do it but I do feel that there is a lack of understanding of what what is ethical and moral in today’s students. That one needs to do something to increase the the background and values of the students in terms of of their feeling and respect for their fellow man. That along with their scientific training would would help them. Norman you have something you’d like to say. I’ll pass on that for a moment. You have said that you want to see it. It’s a watch for a person who’s a good chairman of a curriculum committee it’s an embarrassing question four of you know when you when you design a curriculum in metallurgy you you run up against so many different things you would like to accomplish it within a very limited framework. And that’s not answering the question. I realize that I’m all right. Another question yes. The Manhattan project was given the go ahead. The late fall of 1941 at a time. No he was not at war. It was reasonable to believe at that time that Nazi Germany had a two year lead the development of a nuclear weapon. You were at this project as view you project that was ongoing for more than three and a half years before it was known how the weapon was that you were in the process of helping develop the going to be you were going to be using it all. To what extent did you think during that period that what you were really doing was developing that could turn to the possible German use of nuclear weapons rather than a weapon. The United States cell itself. The question is in the period of time in which these gentlemen were involved in the project prior to the actual weapons development. To what extent did they receive their own involvement is associated with the project meant not for offensive views but rather as a deterrent mechanism. In anticipation of what Nazi Germany might otherwise do. I think it’s very difficult to go back 40 years and read read cover from one’s memory. One felt and thought at the time. We did field some of the people in the project. We’re much more concerned that the Germans were close to a bomb then than others and I think that they in general felt that there would be some mechanism whereby it could be used as a as a deterrent. I don’t know that we we felt that this was necessarily so but I just don’t remember addressing the problem day as I think back the course of the military and other actions during World War 2. I see very little evidence that deterrence ever worked during World War 2. And I just got to the depths of my soul that Adolf Hitler would have ever been stopped for five seconds. My conditions and thoughts of deterrence no matter what we had known do you have something that when the Germans first began to use the bus bombs against England there was an immediate concern that this letter futile weapon was really being just tried out as a carrier for their. Atomic. Bombs. And when the V2 started to fall why then everyone was certain that there really was no was burning all that fuel just to carry a few million pounds of TNT going carry. I think they. Know. I think at least in my mind the initial motivation for me and I I understood it that way was. I’m not sure whether deterrence was created quite the right word at least as it as a defensive weapon. In other words if the Germans had won we must have won so that at least we don’t succumb to blackmail or worse. I think Peter Leyden made an important point in his book however and I I guess I’m I have to go through this transition myself and that was that after the Germans had surrendered and we no longer had the concern about the Germans having a bomb. This could not stop the progression toward developing the bomb in fact testing the Trinity test in New Mexico was in June or July after after the surrender of the Germans so that we got into this. I think the point that you use we get we get caught up in is saying and we were carried along without really and I don’t even remember asking the question we believe going on from a defensive to an offensive weapon and yet that’s what we did. Thank you. Next question. Yes I read or heard it said that Einstein said that with the creation of the atom bomb everything was changed except our mode of thinking got to. Did he say. He said it isn’t true. And if it is true what are the implications. The question is did Einstein really say with the creation of the bomb that everything has changed but our mode of thinking. The next question is. Is that true and what are the consequences of dealing with that fact. Who would like to handle. Adolf would you like to start off. I’m afraid I have to address that question. I don’t know whether Einstein said it. I’ve never seen it previously but that doesn’t prove a thing and I’ll bet they are not. Well I’ve seen their marketing is the kind of the scanning I have no great difficulty in believing it but I can verify. But unfortunately I think it’s a skewed observation. Whether he said it or not. Dave would you like to respond. I think at precisely the same problems of not being able to resolve conflicts between groups of people which was responsible for World War 2 which was responsible for World War I as before that all through the history of mankind is still something we haven’t coped with today. Something that bothers me a great deal is how does a democracy deal with a fanatical group of people who are dedicated to. Some other course of action other than following the will of the majority to a point where they will do any kind of terrorist act to to sell their point of view. How can we deal with this. This is something that hasn’t been ever solved or ever dealt with. So I think many of the same problems that we had 50 years ago 40 years ago are still here today and I don’t know. I don’t want more problems than I know the answer to the. Next question. Yes. The. Response to the last comment I. Like to ask why are the. Universities or the Department of Defense. Doesn’t fund research into. Conflict resolution. Civilian based. Alternatives. How do we communicate. If you don’t mind. Put your question even more generally why is it the case that society generally doesn’t support the funding of research having to do with understanding the nature of conflict and its resolution do. Does anyone of you or do all three of you have the answer for that. I don’t. Do you think that the scientific community itself given its its important proximity to the kinds of problems that can come out of research for us and that isn’t the development of weapons that we seem to have difficulty controlling on a rational basis. Do you think the scientific community itself has any special responsibility to advocate that organizations such as NSF or NIH or the National Energy Group what have you call or set aside monies for this type of research. Yes. Well I’m not gonna buy into that so often making myself clear. I don’t want somebody to Project Dolphin Research that’s a matter of fact. Again the answer to the general question is that there doesn’t seem to be anybody who would be qualified to do the research. I can’t be qualified to sign. Well you’re the observation that there doesn’t seem to be anybody qualified to do that kind of research is directly related to my earlier question. As we reflect upon the past 40 to 50 years what’s been going on in our society in general and more specifically what’s been going on that can be directly related to scientific achievement. Have we learned anything about the general character of education which if taken into account might then put us in a position to have available people capable of doing the kind of research we’re not talking about. Well I think the next thing that’s gonna happen. On. Relations. That’s an interesting two cultures observation isn’t it. Very interesting CB snow would be right at home. That’s exactly what lies behind again in the earlier question that I put in following up to Dr wrong. If we continue to live in that too culture world then it appears to be the case that we are forever destined to have to say nobody is truly competent to deal with those basic underlying moral issues upon which we based the general decisions that we make in the shaping of our community. That essentially remains once and for all on subject in matter not to be relied upon as a base for public policy. Isn’t that the consequence of the position you’re not taking. I think this makes the point that there are some things I want other things raised about the topic. You can do research on the judgment but I find the plane. This is full circle chaplain Hansen’s in the audience about 20 years ago there was a program of this type on campus and this was the central issue. How do we bring together our concern to make use of science for certain practical games with our desire to make those decisions within the context of a general set of values that are generally shared by the community. Anybody out there would like to make a comment about their general problem. Don’t let me do all the talking or hear on the panel. They don’t. You’re doing it. Yes. In the back. Yeah. With regard to science in general I think it started with the nuclear. Let’s leave with some time that became somewhat easier when we were no longer doing things for the sheer purpose of the knowledge we’re competing against people that we have a fear of doing something for. The premise for the nuclear weapon isn’t that sort of thing is based on the work we’re not doing it for the pure science but we’re afraid of somebody else if it’s continued because it’s like you say the only jobs available requires McDonnell Douglas electric bill and companies like that. I guess the general question is how do you feel are our society as a whole has been hurt by the fact that our most brilliant scientist is the finest engineers across the board. Instead of doing things for the benefit of the people are the part. You started to do and now are working for companies that are continuing that. Work and we believe that has occurred. There are at least two maybe two or three questions that should be put here in sequence. 1. Do you generally agree that over the past 40 to 50 years a good deal of the direction given to scientific research has come from an area of concern namely defense and offensive development to as a result of that emphasis. Have we in fact deprived ourselves of significant non military gains that might otherwise have been made by using those same scientists. 3 If that’s the case what would you gentlemen as senior citizens of the science community and senior citizens generally have to say by way of Solomonic observation that we might build on from here forward. Let’s start with the youngest member of the panel Dave Peterson. Maybe we can throw a little light on that if we go back and look a little bit at the allocation process which occurs after all within the Congress of the United States and someone who is. I don’t remember exactly what it was but someone who is responsible for trying to get more money for research said that you can go into these congressional committees and beg and plead for more money for pure research and more money for basic research and more money for interesting research and you will come up with a dollar if you go in and plead for money for a national emergency to stave off a fresh water shortage. You’re probably too young to remember that but about 15 or 15 years ago we had a tremendous shortage where the Federal Government had bought for hundreds of millions of dollars to solve the problem of drinking water. If you do that you get money if you go in and say the Russians had won you get money. And so that. It gets down to a question about what things motivate Congress. And Congress is us we have elected the people in Congress that respond to all our input and that’s where we’re going to have to start selling the job of reallocating resources advice for things to be done. Not directly but I certainly agree that the matter of peace is too important to not to put as much emphasis on at least as we do on preparing for war. And yet we don’t do that. And I am not sure it is the job for the science. I believe there might be other professions who are better prepared to deal with that kind of an issue although certainly technical. There could be some technical technical breakthroughs and might contribute to peace. This is one of the arguments of course President really uses for the Star Wars theme which. I find it hard to follow but nonetheless it the order. But. I think we I think we need to emphasise that Peterson said the allocations are decided really by whatever the issues are and my judgment today. The problem that concerns me almost as much as has nuclear armaments is is a is a pollution problem. As I travel around this world and see what’s happening and we can’t even you know can’t even agree whether there is any what the problem is and what we should do about it. And yet to see the trees and in Europe and the United States and Canada going and I think this is a problem of great seriousness which many people would be very happy to work on. I think if there were a little bit more recognition of the series of that type of problem. So I don’t think this is the only serious problem it faces. That’s what I am saying you know. Would you like to add something. Well not very much. I think it’s an interesting thing in terms of what’s happened here. We talked about the history of the AIDS laboratory and its original founding formation of the Manhattan Lower Manhattan Project as a part of the war effort. But the laboratory has continued here without getting involved in any thing that approaches. Why were we no longer have had. We haven’t had anything any secret or classified work being done in the laboratory for many years. In other words it is possible to get government funding for a laboratory that while it does engineering that may have some military application is certainly not a direct kind of military work that would require classification of secrecy thanks very much. Yes. Right here. A very uncomfortable I think my career quite a while ago. So with a. And I was concerned with trying to. Find objective. Information to. Work on. Human problems. I think. I need idea. Worst game problems gotten out here. I really have the confidence. That. That. Sort. Of hippy methodology can’t work on. Human concrete revolution. I think people are very pessimistic and I kind of expect that a. Political scientist. Would anyone else like to make a comment or add another question. Well that lack of empowerment. Yes. In 1980 when Reagan was elected I was a graduate student at Berkeley and a number of my professors at that time I was offered Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. So said he was glad to hear you know my professors were quite concerned about that time and many of them were discussing the possibility that would help to redirect their research programs to more of the Department of Defense slammed because of Reagan and his policies. I would like to do with this perhaps both a bit of a rhetorical question I thought. Three of you a statement that you willingly use your scientific background in the work outbreak in the 1940s. The thing with Reagan proliferates to a point where Ames Laboratory is asked to. Contribute. In a. In a similar way. Would you be so willing to help put the question again if you don’t like it. It’s not a rhetorical question. All three of you it’s been observed were willingly involved in the Manhattan Project which was part of a larger project associated with developing the first atomic bomb. In particular historical circumstances reflecting on the present political situation of our country and the apparent plans and ideas of our president were those plans and ideas in the area of military development and defense and offensive systems to lead eventually to the point of wanting to get the Ames lab involved in that general program of military development. What position which would you take with regard to the question Should the Ames lab become involved or not. I just don’t think the two situations are comparable. We were in a war situation at that time and a situation at the present time in which there was a request that we get involved in Star Wars. I could speak plainly I’m no longer employed by the university or the laboratory. I would think that it would. Personally I would have a great deal of reluctance to get involved in something unless granted that there is no emergency about it and I take an awful lot to convince me that Star Wars constitutes an emergency no. I. I would share the same view but I think I was a bit more skeptical about plunging into something of that nature than I was when I was younger and more idealistic maybe or something I’d like also just to make a comment to my good friend Wallace. I was commenting about the pessimism. I I’m not sure if pessimism is quite the word that I want to convey and I’m I’m more apt. I think it is a point that is a point I would try to make to it that I think much of the scientific methodology that could be used to foster peace. But I think that it requires people with perhaps a different perspective and orientation to bringing scientific scientists in to help with the application of that methodology. I don’t think we’re really training to be political scientists or whatever is involved a of would be involved in leading such a. David with regard to the first question which is would I participate. The answer to that there might be. First of all if I had decided to retire then I probably wouldn’t have a bar. Barring that we live in a democracy. I did not vote for Reagan but Reagan is my president. A lot of my friends and a lot of my relatives and a lot of my acquaintances voted for him. A majority of the American people voted for him and the majority of the American people voted for the Congress that has appropriated money from the president and programs. I may not agree with all of them but I do believe in democracy it may not be perfect but it beats whatever is in second place and I therefore would feel an obligation as a member of the democracy to participate in. If I were called in the actions of the United States. Thank you. Another question. Yes I get a little different part of the question I do. I didn’t live in the 1940s and 1950s but in my lifetime I’ve observed a general of conflict which in language is kind of in the secrecy of everything we do and I’ve always suspected this was borne out in the 1940s particularly after the Manhattan Project and I guess my question is a personal one 16. Were you told not to go home and talk with your wife about the project. What extent were you being checked out by the FBI and you agree that this kind of upset. What I would say is more out of the woodwork. Two questions being put to the panel. Yes. The first question is To what extent were you governed by a strict secrecy code at the time. And second question do you think that the character of that code at the time is causally related to the contemporary secretiveness about what goes on in defense. Perhaps it might have been born in that. Let’s see. I don’t know. I would like to take my son’s question first. All right. I think he’s a liar and I think we’re getting grilled right after the this is a setup. Is very. Yes there was a tremendous secrecy in this work during the war and in the first candidate or probably 10 or 15 years if you were growing up much there was much secrecy much I could have talked about and I did talk about it. You didn’t listen. I don’t think that secrecy in warfare and military preparations and actions dates from World War Two. I think if we look at history it goes all the way back to the first improved clock. Somebody wanted to speak and look at this field in secret. If we look at Sir Isaac Newton he served for a long time on a committee which was to look for its own way of navigating their ocean vessels. And do you think if the British had found that during his time that they would have broadcast back to the French and the Portuguese from the Spanish. No. The other interesting thing about secrecy during World War 2 is that it started long before the US Army was responsible for the Manhattan Project. It started in 1940 at the instigation of the scientists and most of those scientists were refugees from the Nazi menace in Europe. And the reason that they saw the need for security and and secrecy was because they didn’t want to give the Germans an unfair advantage in in the competition. Thanks a lot but I would say which has just echo what’s been said before with regard to the secrecy during the during the 80s war. It was essentially complete. I do know in some cases in which why do a little bit more about what was going on than than others and questions were raised in the suburbs. Some of the women what did what what they were talking about. But there was such secrecy that we couldn’t explain it and that. But I don’t really. I sort of say I agree with David. This matter of military secrecy has gone long before the Manhattan Project before we chuckled. Yes. Excuse me I would make one comment about this stuff. I could pay what these are these voyages of the Manhattan Project in a think that I think a lot of people who are not. Over the phone. But. You try to. Keep the. Idea. Might not recognize as a building the second world war and campuses therefore it’s not at all like the Vietnam real war. This isn’t without any of these camps. We would trying to follow the them. Well. Yes. And so on. And there was also resolved that it was quote offensive. So it was no Campbell here. We were working in the main house. In Chicago. Working in the. Manhattan. Project. And I knew they were working on the radar not just. In Michigan they were working with the EPA. You were there you were the only candidate who were either working and that. You were going to really finally briefly grasp. And get a job. So even though. The. Colleges and Universities were part of the war that’s rarely. The amount. That wasn’t so it wasn’t so it can get now is not so. Now. If you are under those circumstances building that. So therefore the federal government is not funding this kind of work. Please get don’t want to get up the Islamic. Military Affairs. These because they attack is weapons laboratory. We think that’s a very important comment. Historically at the time of the Manhattan Project the military system was essentially integrated into the university system in the United States. Vice versa. Before we wrap up today’s program I would like to point out a couple of things to you about what’s going to happen later on this evening at 8:00 p.m. in Curtis auditorium. DR. Professor Franklin long from Cornell University in Ithaca will be giving a lecture. Professor Long is the America’s Professor of Chemistry societies Science and Society at Cornell University. It’s going to be a fine lecture and I suggest you show up no matter what. There will be more programs tomorrow as well. Their bulletins posted all over explaining them. Let me make one last comment. So we end with some closure. Remember we’re interested in what can be learned from reflection on the past specific reflections such as that one that we’ve done today on our Manhattan project I was state with regard to learning from the past and applying those lessons to the future it seems to me. Two things have emerged today. One the people at Iowa State and this is undoubtedly true elsewhere who are involved. Basically our people there are human beings like the rest of us too. It may be the case that the real problem for us is not that we have something called nuclear weapons. It may be the case that the real problem for us is that as a result of the advances of science over the last 50 years our capacity for being able to do all kinds of things has gone so far ahead of our basic capacity to act as intelligent sensible moral agents that we have more to fear in our moral and sensitivities and capacities than we do in our scientific capacities. And perhaps that’s the lesson for us to learn as we continue on through this program series at Iowa State. Thank you all for coming. Thank you very much. Got to get together with you guys again. All right great. Always nice to be around.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *