Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Joseph Rotblat, 1908–2005

On August 31, 2005, the physicist Joseph Rotblat, one of the founders of the Pugwash peace movement in 1957, passed away. Rotblat and Pugwash shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 "for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms" [1]. I received four e-mail messages about the passing of Rotblat.

The first e-mail message I received was from Tatsujiro Suzuki, the organizer of Peace Pledge Japan (PPJ) [2], to all the signers of the pledge advocated by PPJ. He wrote about these facts: Rotblat joined the Manhattan Project, but learning the impossibility of Germany's making an atomic bomb, he resigned from the Project. Rotblat gave warm encouragement to PPJ. Suzuki's message also included copies of articles published in the Yomiuri and the Mainichi both reporting the death of Rotblat.

The second was a message addressed to David Bradley from an American friend of mine John Hubble. The latter kindly forwarded it to some of his friends including me. John was a former president of the International Radiation Physics Society (IRPS), and asks Bradley to write an obituary in the next issue of the IRPS Bulletin, describing Rotblat's contribution to IRPS Meetings in 1982 and 1985.

The third was an e-mail notification of the PhysicsWeb news published by the Institute of Physics. From the piece of news on the death of Rotblat [2], I learned that in 1950 he had established a new career for himself as a medical physicist, that he had been professor of physics at Bartholomew's Hospital in London from 1950 until his retirement in 1976 and that he had also served as editor of the journal Physics in Medicine and Biology. I was also a little interested in medical physics. However, it was after the middle of the 1980th, and I did not know such a career of Rotblat.

The fourth was a reply message sent to John and all the addressees in the "Cc" line of his message, from Prof. Mohamed Ahmed Gomaa in Cairo, Egypt. This message tells us the followings: Gomaa attended the postgraduate course at London University from 1964 to 1965. Rotblat was an External examiner for his Ph D in 1967. He studied Evans's textbook, The Atomic Nucleus [4], for years together with other students under Rotblat's guidance. — It was nice to hear about Evans's book; I also studied part of it. I have a copy of a reprint edition of this book made in India in 1967. I remember this: When I got that copy, there were some dead bodies of tiny insects among its pages. This seems to represent the condition of printing offices in India those days. —

I heartily wish that Rotblat's final aim of eliminating nuclear arms from the world be realized as soon as possible.

References
  1. The Nobel Peace Prize 1995, Nobelprize.org (1995).
  2. Peace Pledge (Note added later: Link aborted).
  3. Joseph Rotblat dies, PhysicsWeb News (September 2, 2005).
  4. R. D. Evans, The Atomic Nucleus, Reprint edition (Krieger Publishing, 1982; originally published by McGrow-Hill in 1955).
References added later

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