Rabinowitch, Eugene, 1901-1973

Alternative names
Birth 1901-04-27
Death 1973-05-15

Biographical notes:

Atomic physicist, professor of physics.

From the description of Eugene I. Rabinowitch papers, 1923-1973. (University at Albany). WorldCat record id: 122442306

Professor of botany, University of Illinois. Founder and editor, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

From the description of Papers, 1945-1973 (inclusive). (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 52246335

Rabinowitch (1901-1973). Professor of Biophysics, (physical chemistry, physics, botany, biology), University of Illinois, 1947-1968; co-author of the Franck Report, co-founder and editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and a founder of the Pugwash Conferences.

From the description of Eugene Rabinowitch papers, 1924-1973. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 154306652

Eugene I. Rabinowitch was born in St. Petersburg in April 1901. He left the Soviet Union in 1918 to study at the University of Berlin, where he received his doctoral degree in chemistry in 1926 with a thesis entitled "Tin Hydridge and Volatile Hydrides." As a former Russian citizen, he found it difficult to gain an academic position, but with the publication of his book Rare Gases he became a research fellow at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry in Berlin. Later he transferred to the University of Gottingen and joined Professor James Franck.

When his fellowship was suspended in 1933, Rabinowitch joined the stream of eminent refugees fleeing Germany. Professor Neils Bohr invited him to Copenhagen. He spent a year there before moving on to the University College, London, where F. G. Donnan invited him to work as a Research Associate. He remained in England for four years.

While lecturing in the United States in 1938, he accepted a position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the Cabot Solar Energy Research Project. In the spring of 1944 he took a leave of absence from M. I. T. to join the Manhattan Project. At the Project's Metallurgical Laboratory in Chicago he was chief chemist and section chief in the information division. "My work there," Rabinowitch wrote in 1959, "had to do with the exchange and coordination of information between Chicago, Oak Ridge, Hanford and Los Alamos."

Rabinowitch was concerned about the repercussions of the release of atomic energy. In June 1945, with a group including Szilard, Seaborg, and Nickson led by James Franck at the Metallurgical Laboratory, Rabinowitch helped draft a report addressed to the Secretary of War, which warned of an impending nuclear arms race without effective international control.

The same year, with a fellow alumnus of the Chicago Laboratory, Hyman Goldsmith, Rabinowitch founded the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. After Goldsmith's death in 1949 Rabinowitch assumed the responsibilities of the editor-in-chief.

His position as a molder of opinion among American scientists, his numerous European contacts, and his fluency in Russian made inevitable his role as a leader of the "Pugwash" movement. The call for an international conference of scientists to discuss the perils of the nuclear age was raised by India's Prime Minister Nehru in 1954. The suggestion was taken up in an exchange of letters between Rabinowitch, as representative of the Federation of Atomic Scientists, and the representative of the Atomic Scientists Association of Great Britain, Joseph Rotblat. The Soviets entered the discussions indirectly through an organization of non-scientists, the Association of Parliamentarians for World Government, which held its conference in London in August 1955; Rabinowitch and Rotblat were among the conferees. Subsequently Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell's joint "appeal" for an international conference of scientists gave impetus to these preliminary organizational attempts. The "appeal" plus the financial assistance of Cyrus Eaton enabled the first Pugwash Conference to convene in 1957 at Eaton's estate, Pugwash, Nova Scotia.

Since the first conference the scientists met twelve more times. Originally, the talks centered upon the scientific implications of atomic energy such as the dangers of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere and the effect of strontium 90 upon the genetic future of humanity. In later meetings the discussions probed the problems of underdeveloped nations and the cooperative roles that science and government should play to increase the food supply, check the population growth, and raise industrial production in these critical parts of the world.

From the guide to the Rabinowitch, Eugene I. Papers, 1945-1972, (Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)


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