Nuclear Power Plant Isar, Germany

Spent nuclear fuel pool

Turbine of a nuclear plant

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was a German physicist in Ulm, March 14, 1879 and died in Princeton, New Jersey, April 18, 1955.

In 1900, Einstein obtained Swiss nationality and in 1940 the American passport. Einstein was educated in Munich and in Switzerland, he received his doctorate in 1905 in Zurich. He studied music as a notable violin performer. In 1909 he found a place in teaching at the University of Zurich (during the years 1902-09 Albert Einstein was employed by a Bern patent office); in 1911 he went to Prague, in 1912 at the polytechnic school in Zurich, and in 1913 at the University of Berlin; He directed the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics and was a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences.

The first works published by Einstein date from 1905 (as Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Korps; 'On the electrodynamics of moving bodies'). Four of these first works were dedicated to the mathematical analysis of Brownian movement, in the photoelectric effect, in establishing mass-energy equivalence and exposing the foundations of the special (or restricted) theory of relativity.

Over the course of the 1910-20 decade, Albert Einstein worked to generalize his relativist theory of initiation. In 1916, Einstein who published the famous theory of relativity (Die Grundlagen der Allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie; 'the foundations of the theory of general relativity'). This publication was the result of his efforts to include a theory of the gravitational field. In 1921 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the photoelectric effect.

Exile because of World War II

In 1933, due to his status as a Jew, he had to exile himself from Germany and settled in Princeton where he lived until his death. In Princeton he was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study working on the theory of generalized relativity, on the theory of the unified field. The unified field theory encompasses both electromagnetic and gravitational phenomena, and in critical discussions about the physico-philosophical interpretations of quantum theory.

In 1939, President Roosevelt warned, in a famous letter, of the danger that Germany anticipated in the US over atomic research, which led to the creation of the Manhattan project. However, he militated in pacifism.

Einstein is one of the most representative figures of the scientific process of the s. XX, and his personality has surpassed the merely scientific field to become a symbol.

Einstein's involvement in the development of the nuclear bomb

The events of World War I pushed Einstein to engage politically, taking sides. He felt contempt for violence, bravado, aggression and injustice.

Given the possibility that the Germans developed nuclear energy technology to build the atomic bomb, Einstein was asked to write a letter to President Roosevelt. In this letter Einstein recommended to the US president that the United States pay attention and devote himself to his own investigation of nuclear weapons.

The letter is believed to be "possibly the key stimulus for the adoption by the United States of serious investigations into nuclear weapons on the eve of the entry of the United States into World War II." In addition to the letter, Einstein used his connections with the Belgian royal family and the Belgian queen mother to gain access with a personal envoy to the White House Oval Office. Some say that as a result of Einstein's letter and his meetings with Roosevelt, the United States entered the "race" to develop the bomb, taking advantage of its "immense material, financial and scientific resources" to start the Manhattan Project.

In 1939 his most important participation in world issues takes place. The Smyth Report, although with subtle cuts and omissions, tells the story of how physicists tried, unsuccessfully, to interest the Navy and the Army in the nuclear energy project. But Einstein's famous letter to Roosevelt written on August 2 was the one that broke the rigidity of the military mentality. However, Einstein, who feels contempt for violence and wars, is considered the father of the atomic bomb. In the middle of World War II he supported an initiative by Robert Oppenheimer to begin the nuclear weapons development program known as the Manhattan Project.

Subsequently, Einstein promoted the well-known Russell-Einstein Manifesto, an appeal to scientists to unite in favor of the disappearance of nuclear weapons. This document served as inspiration for the subsequent foundation of the Pugwash Conferences, which in 1995 were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Manhattan project

The Manhattan project was the project to develop the first nuclear weapon (popularly known as the atomic bomb) during World War II by the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. What was officially called the Manhattan Engineering District refers to the period 1941-1946, when the project was under the control of the US Army Genie Corps., Under the administration of Major General Leslie R. Groves. The scientific research was conducted by the American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.

The project was successful in the development and detonation of three nuclear weapons in 1945:

  • The first was a test of the detonation of a plutonium implosion bomb on July 16, 1945 (Trinity test), near Alamogordo, State of New Mexico
  • The second detonation was carried out with an enriched uranium bomb called "Little Boy" on August 6 over Hiroshima, Japan.
  • Finally, the third detonation occurred with a second plutonium bomb dropped on Japan, called "Fat Man" on August 9, on Nagasaki.
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Last review: October 21, 2019