Albert Einstein 1879-1955
Einstein was undoubtedly the single greatest contributor to science in the 20th
century. Few will argue with that point. His gifts to today’s understanding of
the universe, energy, time among others base many branches of modern science.
His contributions are not restricted only to the fields of science, but also to
the individual person: from powerful heads of states to the average citizen.
Albert Einstein helped Oppenheimer1 develop the fundamental science needed to
break atoms, causing massive amounts of energy to be released. There are two
common forms of this technology today, the Nuclear Power Plants, and the Atomic,
or Nuclear Bomb.
During the WWII battles with Japan, the United States government instructed a
group of scientists to derive a new weapon, one that could potentially cause
large scale destruction emitting from a single bomb. Many notable scientists
contributed to this project, but none with as much global respect as Einstein.
With the help of his physics knowledge, the mission was accomplished: a weapon
yielding the force of thousands of tons of dynamite was tested at a government
installation test site in Nevada.
Soon after the United States used this weapon on Japan twice, The Soviet Union
developed their own nuclear weapon. The Arms Race was on. Suddenly both
countries expended large amounts of resources on making these bombs useful in
combat. Three hundred billion U.S. dollars2 were spent to ignite this project
and produce only a small number of functional bombs. The Soviet Union was
thought to have spent about equal amounts.
By the late 1950’s what we now know as the Cold War erupted. Nuclear Holocaust
seemed inevitable. Tensions between the Communists and the States reached
monumental highs. The whole United States suddenly went into a panic mode that
would stay resident until the 1980’s. Children on the first day of a new year
of school were taught where the fallout shelter was. Instead of swimming pools,
people would purchase subterranean bunkers to protect them from the radiation
and chaos that was expected to follow the attack. Both sides of this war
scrambled to better their strategic location of missiles. All to many times did
one country push the other nearly to the brink of all out nuclear war.
It seemed that Einstein had foreseen the use of this weapon and made it know in
a statement that he is commonly quoted saying,
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV
will be fought with sticks and stones.”
He was all too correct with this statement. He knew very well that when a war
was fought with such weapons as nuclear bombs, there would be little left to
fight over. There would be no winners in this war. The whole globe would be
shattered by these two giants. And both sides knew it.
As soon as one power would attack the other, an all out fight would engage. The
peak U.S. response time was only a little less than 10 seconds. Missiles would
be launched, landing in a little over a minute in key locations first, like
industrial centers, capitals, etc. The clean up round would completely
annihilate all land governed by the country in less than 4 minutes. Without the
ability to launch full destruction from a button, these two powers would have
for certain used land troops and air attacks. Civilians would die and cities
would be crumbled in a non-nuclear battle, but this was a winnable war. One
would walk away having brought the other to its knee. Some treat the nuclear
weapon like a curse, others the single most important tool in protecting our
I feel that my personal well being has been the result of the nuclear bomb.
Since the end of WWII until today, there has been less bloodshed between world
powers than in centuries, if not millenniums. Although Einstein was hated by
some groups in his time because of his contribution, I believe that he knew very
well of the future. I strongly feel he would avoid helping the Manhattan
Project if he felt it would result in nuclear war.
“Before God we are all equally wise – and equally foolish”
1 Robert Oppenheimer was the head of the Manhattan Project, the project given
the instruction to harness the power of the atom in a destructive way. Einstein
played a great role in laying the roadwork for this new venture. Oppenheimer
himself received a Nobel Prize in physics. 2 Inflation adjusted to 1995.