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‘Joseph Rotblat: A Singular Figure in 20th Century Nuclear Politics’ At Fuller Lodge 7 p.m. Nov. 12

on November 8, 2019 - 8:21am

Dr. Jeffrey Boutwell

Los Alamos Historical Society News:

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Joseph Rotblat will be the subject of the next topic in the Los Alamos Historcal Society’s continuing lecture series when Dr. Jeffrey Boutwell delivers “Joseph Rotblat: A Singular Figure in 20th Century Nuclear Politics” at 7 p.m. Nov. 12, in Fuller Lodge.

Rotblat was a Polish physicist and a controversial figure. He was the only scientist to voluntarily resign from the Manhattan Project, leaving Los Alamos in December 1944 amid a great deal of U.S. and British government surveillance.

In the mid-1950s, he collaborated with the British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, who many viewed as implacably anti-American, to organize international scientists to oppose nuclear weapons through the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Rotblat and Pugwash would share the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts yet were criticized by some for unwittingly—or knowingly—advancing the agenda of the Soviet Union.

Dr. Boutwell, a colleague of Rotblat’s for 20 years, will explore the motivations of Rotblat’s departure from Los Alamos, his anti-nuclear weapons collaboration with Russell, Albert Einstein, Leo Szilard, and many other notable scientists, and the deeply held personal beliefs that led Rotblat to tirelessly advocate for the elimination of all nuclear weapons—as unrealistic as he knew that to be—up until his death in 2005 at the age of 96.

Dr. Boutwell is retired from 30 years of working on nuclear weapons, the Middle East, and a wide range of foreign and defense policy issues for the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His published works include The German Nuclear Dilemma (1990) and Israeli-Palestinian Security Issues (1995), as well as numerous other books and journal articles.

In the 1970s he worked on European theater nuclear force issues for the National Security Council in the Carter administration. He has a Ph.D. in political science from MIT and a M.Sc. in economics and politics from the London School of Economics.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Joseph Rotblat. Courtesy/LAHS