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ALBERT EINSTEIN
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ALBERT EINSTEIN
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ALBERT EINSTEIN

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About the object

ALBERT EINSTEIN\n(1879 - 1955) American physicist whose Theory of Relativity and and studies of mass and energy relationships revolutionized the field of physics. A superlative Einstein piece, an incredibly rare T.L.S. "A. Einstein" 2pp. 4to., "Peconic, 2 August 1939" [but 1946] being a fair copy of his historic letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt warning of German efforts to develop an atomic bomb. This copy was prepared by Einstein during the filming of the Oscar-nominated documentary film, Atomic Power . The document is a near-contemporary copy of the important letter Einstein actually forwarded to F.D.R., alerting him that "the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy" which will allow the construction of "extremely powerful bombs of a new type."\n\nThe letter reads, in full: "Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future" . Certain aspects of the situation which has arisen seem to call for watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. I believe therefore that it is my duty to bring to your attention the following facts and recommendations. In the course of the last four months it has been made probable through the work of Joliot in France as well as Fermi and Szilard in America--that it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future. This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable--though much less certain--that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove to be too heavy for transportation by air. The United States has only very poor ores of uranium in moderate quantities. There is some good ore in Canada and the former Czechoslovakia while the most important source of uranium is Belgian Congo. In view of this situation you may think it is desirable to have some permanent contact maintained between the administration and the group of physicists working on chain reactions in America. One possible way of achieving this might be for you to entrust with this task a person who has your confidence and who could perhaps serve in an unofficial capacity. His task might comprise the following: a) to approach Government Departments, keep them informed of the further development, and put forward recommendations for Government action, giving particular attention to the problem of securing a supply of uranium ore for the United States; b) to speed up the experimental work, which is at present being carried on within the limits of the budgets of University laboratories, by providing funds, if such funds be required, through his contacts with private persons who are willing to make contributions for this cause, and perhaps also by obtaining the co-operation of industrial laboratories which have the necessary equipment. I understand that Germany has actually stopped the sale or uranium from Czechoslovakian mines which she has taken over. That she should have taken such early action might perhaps be understood on the ground that the son of the German Under-Secretary of State, von Weizsacker, is attached to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut in Berlin where some of the American work on uranium is being repeated."\n\nThe impulse which led to the letter originated not with Einstein but with the Hungarian-born physicist Leo Szilard, a former student of Einstein's, who, like Fermi, Teller, Einstein and a host of other European scientists and researchers, had been driven from his homeland to the United States by the threat of Hitler's European aggression and persecution. In fact, the collaboration of Einstein and Szilard, motivated by their fears of German war preparations and nuclear research, generated not one, but two nearly identical letters: both composed at the same time, both typed on the same typewriter and finally, both signed with the same pen by Einstein. One of the two, longer by a few sentences, was delivered to the President. That version--arguably the most influential single letter of the twentieth century, its text quoted in many histories and biographies--has rested, since 1945, in the permanent collections of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, New York. Szilard retained the shorter version, and that letter sold at Sotheby's in 2002 for over $2 million. The longer letter was not finally delivered to F.D.R. until October 11, 1939. By the next evening, Roosevelt had formed the Briggs Committee to investigate the potentials of nuclear fission which became the germ for the Manhattan Project.\n\nFor the purposes of the documentary, Einstein chose to personally retype and sign the longer edition which was sent to F.D.R. This fair copy was typed on his own typewriter in his study while being filmed for the documentary. Produced by D. Y. Bradshaw for Time's "March of Time" newsreel series, Atomic Power featured interviews with participants in the development of the bomb including Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer. Following the completion of filming, Einstein gave the signed letter to Bradshaw as a gift. The letter has remained in the possession of his family since that time.\n\nIn 1950, Einstein wrote to A. J. Muste that his only contribution to the project had been "a letter to Roosevelt". Einstein was never informed, officially or even unofficially, of the progress of the secret project on which so many of his scientific colleagues would be engaged for the next five years. On 6 August 1945, while vacationing at Lake Saranac, the author of the Theory of Relativity overheard a radio announcement of the destruction of Hiroshima: the horrific, spectacular proof of his 1905 equation of equivalence: E = mc2. When asked by a reporter for his opinion on the bomb, Einstein remarked "The world is not ready for it." Late in life, he confided to Linus Pauling that "I made one great mistake in my life--when I signed a letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made"\nIt is particularly surprising that Einstein would recreate his historic letter for any party, only a few scant months after the terrible destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Due to Einstein's intense misgivings for writing Roosevelt in the first place, this is the only known fair copy of the document that ushered in the "Atomic Age". A tremendous rarity.
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*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.

*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.


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