Thursday, May 21, 2009

Leo Szilard -Views on the cold war, nuclear weapons -THE VOICE OF THE DOLPHINS

What one could surely say of Leo is that he was a zealous advocate of preserving human life,freedom and the communication of ideas in every act and advocacy he performed. His short stories (61) The Voice of the Dolphins wrestled with moral issues raised by the Cold war as the article states. His horror of atomic weapons caused his move to molecular biology and his ensuing work with Aaron Novick and in 1950 he proposed the cobalt bomb which might be the final solution for the planet.

  • Aug 15 60 interview US NEWS & WORLD REPORT

  • Is fiction a presage for future fact? His title story conceived of an International Biology Research Lab in Central Europe When the European Molecular Biology Laboratory was established, the library was named The Szilard Library QUOTE

  • Its library was named the Szilard library

  • In 62 he was part of the group who formed Council for a Livable World

Views on the use of nuclear weapons
In 1932, Szilárd had read about the
fictional "atomic bombs" described in
H. G. Wells's science fiction novel The World Set Free.
This inspired him to be the first scientist to seriously examine the science
behind the creation of
nuclear weapons. As a
scientist, he was the first person to conceive of a device that, using a
nuclear chain
as fuel, could be used as a bomb.
As a survivor of a devastated
Hungary after World War
, and having witnessed the subsequent terror
of the Reds and the Whites
, Szilárd developed an enduring passion for the
preservation of human life and
freedom, especially
freedom to communicate ideas.
He hoped that the U.S. government would not use
nuclear weapons because of their potential for use against civilian populations.
Szilárd hoped that the mere threat of such weapons would force Germany and/or Japan to surrender. He drafted the Szilárd petition
advocating demonstration of the atomic bomb. However with the European war
concluded and the U.S. taking heavy casualties in the Pacific, the new U.S.
Harry Truman sided with
advisors and chose to use
bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki
over the protestations of Szilárd and
other scientists.

After the war
In 1947, Szilárd switched fields of study because of his horror
of atomic weapons, moving from physics to molecular biology,
working extensively
with Aaron
. He proposed, in February 1950, a new kind of nuclear weapon using cobalt as a tamper,
, which he said might wipe out all life on the planet. U.S. News &
World Report
featured an interview with Szilárd in its August 15, 1960
issue, "President Truman Didn't Understand." His penchant to use language
provocatively and say things which most readers would dismiss as absurd is well
evidenced in this quote from that interview: "But again, I don't believe this
staging a demonstration was the real issue, and in a sense it is just as immoral
to force a sudden ending of a war by threatening violence as by using violence.
My point is that violence would not have been necessary if we had been willing
to negotiate."
In 1961 Szilárd published a book of short stories, The Voice
of the Dolphins, in which he wrestled with the moral and ethical issues raised
by the
and his own role in the development of atomic
. The title story described an international biology research
laboratory in Central Europe. This became reality following a
in 1962
with Victor F.
, James Watson and John
. When the European
Molecular Biology Laboratory
was established, the library was named The Szilard Library
and the library stamp features dolphins.
Szilárd married Gertrud Weiss in
In 1960,
Szilárd was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He
underwent radiation therapy at New
using a treatment regimen that he designed himself. A second round
of treatment followed in 1962; Szilárd's cancer remained in remission
In 1962, Szilárd was part of a group of scientists who founded
Council for a
Livable World
. The Council's goal was to warn the public and Congress of the
threat of nuclear war and lead the way to rational arms control and nuclear
He spent his last years as a fellow at the Salk
in San Diego.
In May 1964,
Szilárd died in his sleep of a
heart attack at
the age of sixty-six. At his memorial it was said that Death was required to
come to him while asleep, or otherwise he would have outwitted it.[

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