Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a nontechnical online magazine that covers global security and public policy issues, especially related to the dangers posed by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

. It has been published continuously since 1945, when it was founded by former Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

 physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

s after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945, and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.For six months...

 as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago. The Bulletins primary aim is to inform the public about nuclear policy debates while advocating for the international control of nuclear weapons. It is currently published by SAGE Publications
SAGE Publications
SAGE is an independent academic publisher of books, journals, and electronic products in the humanities and social sciences and the scientific, technical, and medical fields. SAGE was founded in 1965 by George McCune and Sara Miller McCune. The company is headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California,...

.

One of the driving forces behind the creation of the Bulletin was the amount of public interest surrounding atomic energy at the dawn of the atomic age. In 1945 the public interest in atomic warfare and weaponry inspired contributors to the Bulletin to attempt to inform those interested about the dangers and destruction that atomic war could bring about. To convey the particular peril posed by nuclear weapons, the Bulletin devised the Doomsday Clock
Doomsday Clock
The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock face, maintained since 1947 by the board of directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago. The closer the clock is to midnight, the closer the world is estimated to be to global disaster. , the Doomsday Clock now stands at six...

 in 1947. The original setting was seven minutes to midnight. The minute hand of the Clock first moved closer to midnight in response to changing world events in 1949, following the first Soviet nuclear test. The Clock is now recognized as a universal symbol of the nuclear age. In the 1950s, the Bulletin was involved in the formation of Pugwash
Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is an international organization that brings together scholars and public figures to work toward reducing the danger of armed conflict and to seek solutions to global security threats...

, an annual conference of scientists concerned about nuclear proliferation, and, more broadly, the role of science in modern society.

Founders and contributors


The original founder and editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was biophysicist
Biophysics
Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that uses the methods of physical science to study biological systems. Studies included under the branches of biophysics span all levels of biological organization, from the molecular scale to whole organisms and ecosystems...

 Eugene Rabinowitch
Eugene Rabinowitch
Eugene Rabinowitch was a Russian-born American biophysicist who is best known for his work in relation to nuclear weapons, especially as a co-author of the Franck Report and a co-founder in 1945 of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a global security and public policy magazine, which he edited...

 (1901–1973). He founded the magazine alongside physicist Hyman Goldsmith. Rabinowitch was a professor of botany and biophysics at the University of Illinois
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is a large public research-intensive university in the state of Illinois, United States. It is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system...

 and was also a founding member of the Continuing Committee for the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is an international organization that brings together scholars and public figures to work toward reducing the danger of armed conflict and to seek solutions to global security threats...

. In addition to Rabinowitch and Goldsmith, contributors have included: Morton Grodzins
Morton Grodzins
Morton M. Grodzins was a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, as well as a dean of the school and an editor at Chicago University Press. He is known for coining the term "tipping point" in studies of white flight, such as The Metropolitan Area as a Racial Problem...

, Hans Bethe
Hans Bethe
Hans Albrecht Bethe was a German-American nuclear physicist, and Nobel laureate in physics for his work on the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis. A versatile theoretical physicist, Bethe also made important contributions to quantum electrodynamics, nuclear physics, solid-state physics and...

, Anatoli Blagonravov
Anatoli Blagonravov
Anatoli A. Blagonravov was a Russian space scientist. He represented the USSR on the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space . He worked closely with Hugh Dryden, his American counterpart, to promote...

, Max Born
Max Born
Max Born was a German-born physicist and mathematician who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics. He also made contributions to solid-state physics and optics and supervised the work of a number of notable physicists in the 1920s and 30s...

, Harrison Brown, Brock Chisholm
Brock Chisholm
George Brock Chisholm, CC, MC & Bar was a Canadian First World War veteran, medical practitioner, and the first Director-General of the World Health Organization...

, E.U. Condon, Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

, E.K. Fedorov, Bernard T. Feld
Bernard T. Feld
Bernard T. Feld was a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He helped develop the atomic bomb, and later led an international movement among scientists to banish nuclear weapons....

, James Franck
James Franck
James Franck was a German Jewish physicist and Nobel laureate.-Biography:Franck was born to Jacob Franck and Rebecca Nachum Drucker. Franck completed his Ph.D...

, Ralph E. Lapp, Richard S. Leghorn, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Lord Boyd Orr, Michael Polanyi
Michael Polanyi
Michael Polanyi, FRS was a Hungarian–British polymath, who made important theoretical contributions to physical chemistry, economics, and the theory of knowledge...

, Louis Ridenour
Louis Ridenour
Dr. Louis N. Ridenour was a physicist instrumental in U.S. development of radar, Vice President of Lockheed, and an advisor to President Eisenhower.- Biography and positions Held :During World War II, Ridenour worked at the MIT Radiation Laboratory....

, Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these things...

, Nikolay Semyonov
Nikolay Semyonov
Nikolay Nikolayevich Semyonov was a Russian/Soviet physicist and chemist. Semyonov was awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the mechanism of chemical transformation.-Life:...

, Leó Szilárd
Leó Szilárd
Leó Szilárd was an Austro-Hungarian physicist and inventor who conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933, patented the idea of a nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi, and in late 1939 wrote the letter for Albert Einstein's signature that resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb...

, Edward Teller
Edward Teller
Edward Teller was a Hungarian-American theoretical physicist, known colloquially as "the father of the hydrogen bomb," even though he did not care for the title. Teller made numerous contributions to nuclear and molecular physics, spectroscopy , and surface physics...

, A.V. Topchiev, Harold C. Urey, Paul Weiss
Paul Weiss
Paul S. Weiss is a leading American nanoscientist at UCLA. He holds numerous positions, including Fred Kavli Chair and Director of the California NanoSystems Institute and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry...

, James L. Tuck, among many others.

In 1949, the Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science incorporated as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization to serve as the parent organization and fundraising mechanism of the Bulletin. In 2003, the Board of Directors voted to officially change the foundation's name to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Purpose of the Bulletin


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists began as an emergency action undertaken by scientists who saw urgent need for an immediate educational program about atomic weapons. One of the purposes of the Bulletin was to educate fellow scientists about the relationship between their world of science and the world of national and international politics. A second was to help the American people understand what nuclear energy and its possible applications to war meant. The Bulletin contributors believed the atom bomb would only be the first of many dangerous presents from “Pandora's box
Pandora's box
Pandora's box is an artifact in Greek mythology, taken from the myth of Pandora's creation around line 60 of Hesiod's Works and Days. The "box" was actually a large jar given to Pandora , which contained all the evils of the world. When Pandora opened the jar, all its contents except for one item...

 of modern science.” The aim of the Bulletin was to carry out the long, sustained effort of educating man about the realities of the scientific age.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists sought to educate citizens, policy makers, scientists, and journalists by providing non-technical, scientifically sound and policy-relevant information about nuclear weapons and other global security issues. The Bulletin also serves as a reliable, high-quality global forum for diverse international opinions on the best means of reducing reliance on nuclear weapons. Since its inception in 1945, the Bulletin has sought to educate the American public of the continual danger posed by nuclear weapons and other global dangers.

Changing focus of the Bulletin


Throughout the history of the Bulletin there have been many different focuses of the contributors to the Bulletin. In the early years of the Bulletin it was separated into three distinct stages. These stages, as defined by founder Eugene Rabinowitch in "The Atomic Age" were Failure, Peril, and Fear. The "Failure" stage surrounded the Bulletin's failed attempts to convince the American people that the best and most effective way to control them was to eliminate their use. In the "Peril" stage, the contributors focused on warning readers about the dangers of full scale atomic war. In the "Fear" stage, the unsuccessful attempts at deterring readers from supporting the disarmament of nuclear weapons led many, including the contributors to the Bulletin, to question the patriotism of others.

"Failure"


Even before the Bulletin was established in December 1945, there was an effort by the scientists working inside the United States to prevent atomic warfare from ever taking place. These fears and uncertainties about the effects of atomic warfare existed long before the United States dropped the first bomb on Hiroshima. The contributors strongly felt that the best and most effective way to prevent nuclear war was to prevent the use of atomic weapons. The contributors to the Bulletin insisted that, once it was known that the United States possessed atomic weapons, it was important that the control of the nuclear energy be out of the hands of the state. In one article of the June 1946 Bulletin, written by J. Robert Oppenheimer entitled, “International Control of Atomic Energy,” he examined the idea that non state officials should control atomic energy. He said, “It may be permitted that men who have no qualifications in state-craft concern themselves with the control of atomic energy.” This period of the Bulletin’s history was coined as the "Failure" stage by Eugene Rabinowitch because the Bulletin's attempt to establish control over atomic weapons was unsuccessful.

"Peril"


While the first stage of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was labeled as the Failure stage by founder Eugene Rabinowitch, the second stage was labeled Peril. Following the Soviet Union’s first atomic test on September 24, 1949, the focus of the Bulletin shifted to warning against the dangers of full-scale atomic war. Once the Soviet Union established that it had atomic capabilities, the arms race began and the danger of atomic war was continually growing. In an article entitled, “The Dangers We Face,” written in the November 1957 issue of the Bulletin, Harrison Brown stated, “I believe that we (the United States) are rapidly approaching the time when industrial society will reach a ‘point of no return’ – a point beyond which recovery from major disruption may literally be impossible...” The dangers of full-scale nuclear war were a major concern of the Bulletin contributors, and the fear and “Peril” that they felt was expressed through their writing.

Doomsday Clock



Once the Soviet Union developed atomic weapons, the concern surrounding the world’s destruction was a great fear of the scientists working on the Bulletin. The proximity of nuclear devastation was a popular interest and, as a result, the Bulletin scientists developed a symbol of nuclear danger in 1947 known as the “Doomsday Clock." The “clock,” which only has bullets labeling the numbers in the upper left hand corner, has graced the cover of the Bulletin many times since its creation. The proximity of the minute hand to midnight has been the Bulletin contributors’ way of predicting the potential of nuclear war. When it began in 1947, the minute hand was 7 minutes to midnight. In 1953, when the Soviet Union continued to test more and more nuclear devices, it was 2 minutes to midnight. This proximity to midnight of the “Doomsday Clock” during the early 1950s shows the concern that the Bulletin contributors had about the Soviet Union and the arms race. The warnings of the Bulletin continued throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and the focus of the efforts shifted slightly from warning about the dangers of nuclear war to the necessity of disarmament. Throughout the history of the “Doomsday Clock,” it has moved closer to midnight, and farther away, depending status of the world at that time.
The Doomsday Clock
Doomsday Clock
The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock face, maintained since 1947 by the board of directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago. The closer the clock is to midnight, the closer the world is estimated to be to global disaster. , the Doomsday Clock now stands at six...

 has been getting closer to midnight since 1991, when it was set to 17 minutes to midnight after the superpowers reached agreement on a nuclear arms reductions.

As of January 14, 2010, the Doomsday Clock now stands at 6 minutes to midnight.

"Fear"


As the United States and Soviet Union continued to develop more nuclear weapons, it was obvious that the best way to secure world safety was to disarm, deter and control the arms. The "Peril" stage was relatively unsuccessful in deterring the United States from ending the nuclear arms race and, as a result, the next stage, coined by Rabinowitch as "Fear," set in. During this time period, many people were suspicious of others for not being patriotic Americans, and these issues were an interest of the Bulletin for some time. The issues of foreign espionage, loyalty, and security were all main topics of discussion for the Bulletin in the early arms race years.

Throughout all of these times, there were also discussions in the Bulletin of the applications of nuclear energy as a possible harvestable energy source. Today, this has become a focal point of the Bulletin due to the increasing use of nuclear power to fulfill the world's energy needs. With the understanding that the world’s resources were depleting, many scientists described the pros and cons of using nuclear energy as an alternative to those that were already in use.

The Bulletin today


In more recent years, articles of the Bulletin have focused on many topics, ranging from the dangers of radiation following the Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

 to the impact of the fall of the Soviet Union. In the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse, other articles have focused on things such as military spending. The cover story of the May/June 1998 issue entitled Plain Crazy: The Joint Strike Fighter Story discussed the development of a new set of military fighter jets that could "blow a hole in the attempt to create a leaner Post-Cold War military." With the ever-growing number of nuclear power plants and the demand for nuclear energy, the Bulletin has focused a great deal on the dangers and problems surrounding nuclear energy. One such focal point was the Chernobyl accident and its aftermath in the 1980s. Although the arms race and the Cold War, which were focuses of the Bulletin for many of the earlier years, are no longer occurring, the Bulletin still focuses on the nuclear dangers that exist in the world today. As more countries such as Pakistan and India have tested nuclear weapons, the Bulletin has focused on the dangers posed by these countries. One article written in August 1992 by David Albright and Mark Hibbs discussed Pakistan’s bomb development and how, after the demise of the Soviet Union, other nations such as Pakistan were beginning to develop nuclear programs.

Even more recently, there have been articles written about the threat of North Korea. In an article written for the January/ February 2002 issue of the Bulletin, David Albright and Holly Higgins addressed the threat of North Korea and the many dangers that could result from the poor relationship between North Korea and the rest of the world. The potential dangers of nuclear weapons and energy, as well as military and political developments in the Post-Cold War world, have been the focus of the Bulletin in the most recent years.

The Bulletin sponsors the Leonard M. Rieser Fellowship in Science, Technology, and Global Security, which provides one-time awards of $2,500-$5,000 to undergraduate students seeking to explore the connections between science, technology, global security, and public policy.

The current Executive Director of The Bulletin is Kennette Benedict
Kennette Benedict
Kennette Benedict is the Executive Director and Publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Before joining the Bulletin in October 2005, she had been the Director of International Peace and Security at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, where she also served as Senior...

. The editor is Mindy Kay Bricker.

Online editions


The Bulletin has been partially available on-line for some years. As of 2008, the Bulletin launched a redesign of its Website to accommodate both free Web content and subscription-based premium content (the John A. Simpson Collection). The backfile of the Bulletin has also been made available for free via Google Books. This includes the very first 1945 edition, through to 1998.

Several e-newsletters are also available for free by signing up via the Bulletin website.

Demise of the print edition


In November 2008, it was announced that November/December 2008 would be the last print edition of the Bulletin and that it would be digital-only in the future. SAGE Publications
SAGE Publications
SAGE is an independent academic publisher of books, journals, and electronic products in the humanities and social sciences and the scientific, technical, and medical fields. SAGE was founded in 1965 by George McCune and Sara Miller McCune. The company is headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California,...

 began publishing the Bulletin in September 2010.

See also

  • University of Chicago
    University of Chicago
    The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

  • Franck Report
    Franck Report
    The Franck Report of June 1945 was a document signed by several prominent nuclear physicists recommending that the United States not use the atomic bomb as a weapon to prompt the surrender of Japan in World War II....

  • Eugene Rabinowitch
    Eugene Rabinowitch
    Eugene Rabinowitch was a Russian-born American biophysicist who is best known for his work in relation to nuclear weapons, especially as a co-author of the Franck Report and a co-founder in 1945 of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a global security and public policy magazine, which he edited...

  • Kennette Benedict
    Kennette Benedict
    Kennette Benedict is the Executive Director and Publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Before joining the Bulletin in October 2005, she had been the Director of International Peace and Security at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, where she also served as Senior...

  • Doomsday Clock
    Doomsday Clock
    The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock face, maintained since 1947 by the board of directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago. The closer the clock is to midnight, the closer the world is estimated to be to global disaster. , the Doomsday Clock now stands at six...

  • Nuclear weapon
    Nuclear weapon
    A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

  • Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
    Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
    The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is an international organization that brings together scholars and public figures to work toward reducing the danger of armed conflict and to seek solutions to global security threats...

  • Richard Garwin
    Richard Garwin
    Richard Lawrence Garwin , is an American physicist. He received his bachelor's degree from the Case Institute of Technology in 1947 and obtained his Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Chicago in 1949, where he worked in the lab of Enrico Fermi.Garwin is IBM Fellow Emeritus at the Thomas J...


External links