As this troubled summer rolls along, and the world begins to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the creation, and use, of the first atomic bombs, many special, or especially tragic, days will draw special attention. They will include July 16 (first test of the weapon in New Mexico), August 6 (bomb dropped over Hiroshima) and August 9 (over Nagasaki). Surely far fewer in the media and elsewhere will mark another key date: July 3.
On July 3, 1945, the great atomic scientist Leo Szilard finished a letter/petition that would become the strongest (virtually the only) real attempt at halting President Truman’s march to using the atomic bomb – still almost two weeks from its first test at Trinity – against Japanese cities.
We rarely hear that as the Truman White House made plans to use the first atomic bombs against Japan in the summer of 1945, a large group of atomic scientists, many of whom had worked on the bomb project, raised their voices, or at least their names, in protest. They were led by the great physicist Szilard who, among things, is the man who convinced Albert Einstein to write his famous yes-it-can-be-done letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, setting the bomb project in motion.