Andrew Brown will present a Managing the Atom Seminar entitled "Joséf Rotblat (1908-2005): Keeper of the NuclearConscience" on Tuesday, April 5, at 9:30am in the Kahn Seminar room, L382.

Andrew Brown has just completed a biography of Joséf Rotblat.  Brown will present a summary of the book during his seminar.  Rotblat’s life, starting as a boy in war-torn Warsaw and culminating with honors and public recognition in his late maturity, is a compelling human story in itself. What gave it heft was the six decades of single-minded dedication to peaceful causes, especially his pursuit of nuclear disarmament. For the most part, this was undertaken away from the public gaze through Pugwash, the international network of scientists and intellectuals that he helped to establish in 1957 and which he subsequently managed, charmed, inspired and expanded.

After a brief summary of Rotblat the nuclear physicist, including the controversial circumstances of his departure from the Manhattan Project, I will outline his post-war activities in the penumbra of Britain’s nuclear program, his first political and media encounters, and his friendship with Bertrand Russell. The early days of Pugwash were significant in both establishing mutual trust and a back-channel of communication that penetrated the Iron Curtain: one can trace its growing influence with the statesmen as they approached the Partial Test Ban treaty of 1963. Pugwash was also centrally involved, along with the overlapping Soviet-American Disarmament Study Group led by Paul Doty, in the setting up of the ABM treaty.

During the 1980s, there were regular meetings of an influential Pugwash study group on nuclear forces in Geneva, where there was a Pugwash office that facilitated the first meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan. Gorbachev’s security advisers were heavily influenced by Pugwash ideas, especially the concept of non-offensive defense in Europe. Rotblat saw the end of the cold war as the great opportunity to advance the cause of a Nuclear Weapon Free World and his contributions through the Canberra Commission and his writings helped to bring the issue back on the political agenda.