Votre rôle dans le projet Manhattan



      Est-ce que vous pouvez m´écrire clairement ce que vous avez à voir dans le projet Manhattan?

Ai-je raison si je suppose que vous n´avez rien à voir avec l´invention (si ce n´est que E=mc2), l´élaboration, et la fabrication de la bombe atomique?

Est-ce qu´il serait possible de m´envoyer la lettre (en Allemand) que vous avez envoyée au président Roosevelt? 

Il y a beaucoup de monde, quand je leur demande qui a inventé la bombe atomique, qui me disent que c´est vous.

Pouvez-vous leur dédier la lettre qui va suivre sur ma demande?

Maël, 15 ans

P.S.: J´ai parié 5 Euros avec un copain et quasiment toute la classe est contre mes propos. Ne me décevez pas.



Albert Einstein


Je ne te décevrai pas. Je n'ai effectivement rien à voir avec le projet Manhattan et la bombe atomique, sauf, comme tu dis, pour la formule E=MC2. Voici ci-dessous la lettre que j'ai envoyée au président Roosevelt.

Albert Einstein 
Old Grove Road 
Peconic, Long Island 

August 2nd,1939

F.D. Roosevelt 
President of the United States 
White House 
Washington, D.C.

Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to except that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in 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 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 be possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by 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.

The new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable -though much less certain- that extremely powerful bombs of this 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 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 former Czechoslovakia, while the most important source of uranium is in the Belgian Congo.

In view of this situation you may think it 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 the task with 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 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 optaining cooperation of industrial laboratories which have necessary equipment.

I understand, that Germany has actually stopped the sale of uranium from the 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 German Under-Secretary of State, von Weizsacker, is attached to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institute in Berlin, where some of the American work on uranium is now being repeated.