Linus Pauling and the International Peace Movement Narrative  
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In October 1946, Pauling received a phone call from FAS head Harold Urey, who invited him to join another group, this one a very select, very small gathering of activist/scientists called The Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists (ECAS). The ECAS, Urey explained, had a well-defined purpose: To raise money. It was composed of high-profile, influential anti-Bomb scientists, men capable of convincing others to fund public education efforts about the dangers of atomic weapons. The first members were the best-known names in the FAS, including Urey and Leo Szilard, and the group was headed by the world’s most famed and respected living scientist, Albert Einstein.

Pauling greatly admired Einstein, whom he had first met when the renowned physicist visited Caltech in the 1930s. Pauling told Urey that he considered the invitation a great honor, and he joined with enthusiasm. But in the coming months he did not do much beyond that and signing a few letters. The ECAS held its infrequent meetings on the East Coast, and Pauling’s busy schedule left him unable to attend most of them. Far more important to Pauling than the organization itself was the chance it offered him to spend private time with Einstein, a man he considered a peer of Newton and Darwin in the pantheon of science. Whenever Pauling was near Einstein’s home in Princeton, New Jersey, he would drop by to chat. The two men agreed on many issues: The dangers of the new weapons, the inevitable spread of atomic weapons as other nations replicated the US research, the need for a world government, and the importance of scientists speaking out on public issues. These private moments with Einstein had a profound effect on Pauling, helping him deepen and sharpen his own thinking.

Just as important, Einstein provided him with a role model. When Einstein spoke about the A-Bomb, he did not use the lifeless words of a scientist. He spoke from the heart about the "poison of militarism and imperialism," a "universal atmosphere of fear," a US "drunk on victory." Pauling listened carefully. Einstein, along with Ava Helen, served as Pauling’s inspirations during what would prove to be difficult days ahead.

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Audio Clip  Audio: Science and International Law. 1967. (0:56) Transcript and More Information

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Video Clip  Video: From War Work to the ECAS. 1977. (1:11) Transcript and More Information

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See Also: "Memorandum by Leo Szilard." May 27, 1947. 

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"Atom Bombs Held Cheap, Plentiful." November 18, 1946.


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Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists list of trustees. 1946.

"There is no foreseeable defense against atomic bombs... America has a temporary superiority in armaments, but it is certain that we have no lasting secret. What nature tells one group of men, she will tell in time to any group interested and patient enough in asking the questions."

Albert Einstein
June 23, 1946
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