July 1, 1946, p. 52 (cover story):
...During the earliest favorable weather after July 1, two atom bombs ["fat man" type] would be exploded at Bikini Island. The first bomb (and the fourth ever to be detonated anywhere) would be dropped on 75 obsolete warcraft anchored in the Bikini lagoon [Test Able]. About three weeks later, a second atom bomb would be exploded under the surface of the lagoon [Test Baker].
Tremor of Finality. "Operation Crossroads" (the irony of the name is intentional) had been ordered by the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington, would be carried out under the command of Vice Admiral W.H.P. Blandy, Commander of the joint Army-Navy task force...
On A-day... the B-29 [Dave's Dream] ...will take off from Kwajalein, 250 miles from Bikini. As it makes three trial runs over the orange-colored U.S.S. Nevada, takes readings of wind drift and adjusts the bomb sights, a loudspeaker will alert the whole area. Ten or more miles from the target, the operational ships will keep up steam in case the wind shifts. Aboard, some 40,000 men will lie down on the decks with their feet toward the blast and their eyes covered against blinding...
Then [Dave's Dream] will take off on its fourth and final run. The bomb bay will open. The bombardier, Major Harold Wood, before World War II a grocery clerk of Bordentown, N.J., will release the bomb.
The Genius. Through the incomparable blast and flame that will follow, there will be dimly discernible, to those who are interested in cause & effect in history, the features of a shy, almost saintly, childlike little man with the soft brown eyes, the drooping facial lines of a world-weary hound, and hair like an aurora borealis. He is Professor Albert Einstein, author of the Theory of Special Relativity, Unified Field Theory, and a decisive expansion of Max Planck's Quantum Theory, onetime director of Berlin's Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Professor Emeritus at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, onetime Swiss citizen, onetime Enemy No. 1 of Hitler's Third Reich, now a U.S. citizen.
Albert Einstein did not work directly on the atom bomb. When the serpent of necessity hissed, the men and the woman who bit into the apple of scientific good & evil bore different names: Dr. Arthur Holly Compton, Dr. Enrico Fermi, Dr. Leo Szilard, Dr. H. C. Urey, Dr. Niels Bohr, Dr. J. R. Oppenheimer, et al. The woman was Dr. Lise Meitner, a German refugee.
But Einstein was the father of the bomb in two important ways: 1 ) it was his initiative which started U.S. bomb research; 2 ) it was his equation ( E=mc2 ) which made the atomic bomb theoretically possible.
Late in 1939, after the German Panzers had driven through Poland, and the citizens of Hiroshima were still going quietly about their daily tasks, the little man who hates to write letters wrote a letter to Franklin Roosevelt. In it he stated his conviction that a controlled chain reaction of atomic fission (and hence the atom bomb) was now feasible... Einstein enclosed a report by his friend, Dr. Leo Szilard, describing in more technical language how & why the bomb was possible. Franklin Roosevelt acted. Result: the Manhattan Project (TIME, Aug. 15), the bomb, the 125,000 dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki...
At 13, Albert was reading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Soon he discovered Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.
In 1895, Einstein took the entrance examinations for the Polytechnicum in Zurich, Switzerland. He failed, but got in a year later. At Zurich he completed formal scientific education, became fast friends with Austrian Socialist leader, political assassin and physicist Friedrich Adler.
After graduation, Einstein became a Swiss citizen, later married the Serbian mathematician Mileva Marech, by whom he had two sons.
The fateful mind behind the bomb was born into the world it was to change so greatly at Ulm, Germany, in 1879. Einstein's father was an unsuccessful merchant turned unsuccessful electrical engineer...
Patent Applied For. For two years Einstein earned a wretched living by tutoring. Then he got an obscure job as patent examiner in the Bern patent office. He worked there for seven years. They were among his most productive, theoretically. Scribbling his ideas on scraps of paper, which he thrust out of sight whenever a supervisor approached, Einstein developed his Theory of Special Relativity, which he published without fanfare under the modest title: On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies.
Relativity had been born, and among scientists the clerk was already famous. Soon he became a lecturer at Bern University, then extraordinary professor of physics at the University of Zurich. He taught for a year at the University of Prague, and in the most medieval city in Europe continued his development of the General Theory of Relativity (published in 1915).
One year before World War I, Max Planck (Quantum Theory) used his influence to have Einstein appointed professor at Berlin's Academy of Sciences. One of his duties was managing the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Research. Since Einstein would not relinquish his Swiss citizenship, the Prussian Government gave him honorary citizenship.
The American. After Hitler came to power, Einstein went first to Belgium and England, then to the U.S. In 1940 he became a U.S. citizen. In the U.S. he has continued to work on his Unified Field Theory, which he hopes will bridge the gap between his Relativity Theory and the Quantum Theory, thus producing a universal law of nature...
In Princeton, Einstein lives with simplicity in a prim, box-shaped frame house, with a wistaria vine shrouding the front porch. Until her death in 1936, his second wife (and cousin) Elsa was the female Fafnir who guarded his peace, seclusion and his household accounts. It was Elsa who managed his swelling correspondence (20 letters on dull days, hundreds in season), kept off nosy newshawks and curious neighbors...
Einstein works in an austerely small room with no instrument but a pencil. He has never made a laboratory experiment, though he likes to pad around the Institute's laboratory and make suggestions for improving the apparatus. When people explain to him why the improvement will not improve, he says sadly: "Ja, Ja, I see that it will not work."
The Navigator. He likes to play the fiddle (favorite composers: Bach, Mozart) and to sail a boat. In sailing, his system is to set the sail, make it fast, and with no thought of velocity or energy, loll back while the boat drifts. He smokes a pipe, but never drinks...
Last week Professor Einstein seemed suffering from blast shock from the bomb he had fathered. In the New York Times he warned America that "There is no forseeable defense against atomic bombs... Scientists do not even know of any field which promises us any hope of adequate defense..."
Albert Einstein died in his sleep on April 18, 1955.
Albert Einstein Links:
Am. Mus. of Natural History: Einstein
Einstein Big Idea (PBS Nova)
Einstein in Princeton
Albert Einstein Archive (Hebrew U.)
FBI Investigation of Einstein
Albert Einstein Online (more links)
Nuclear Test Videos (including Trinity, Able, & Baker):
on WMV and MPEG from the DOE Nevada Test Site
on Windows Media Video from NuclearFiles.org
Relativity: The Special and the General Theory
by Albert Einstein, $7.00 at Amazon
Ideas and Opinions
by Albert Einstein, $8.99 at Amazon
Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity
by James B. Hartle, $56.00 at Amazon
Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time
by Marcia Bartusiak, $11.20 at Amazon