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March 09, 1979 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-03-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Friday, March 9, 1919 1

Albert Einstein Renders Discourse on the Morality of Science

, (Copyright 1979, JTA, InO.)

(Editor's note: On Jan.
15, 1947; Jacob Landau,
who was then the manag-
ing director of the Jewish
Telegraphic • Agency,
wrote a letter to Prof. Al-
bert Einstein at Prince-
ton University posing a
series of questions
evoked by a statement
made by Prof. Norbert
Wiener of the Massachu-
setts Institute of
Technology, a leading
theoretician in the sci-
ence of cybernetics,
mathematician and
author. What follows is
the letter by Landau and
a translation from Ger-
man of Einstein's re-

Dear Prof. Einstein:
I am enclosing a clipping
from the Herald Tribune,
reporting a very interesting
statement made recently by
Prof. Norbert Wiener of the
Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. May we ask
you what your reaction is
towards the attitude
adopted by Prof. Wiener. It
seems to me that a number
of questions are bound to be
raised in connection with
this development, and we
would be greatly, obliged to
you if _you cared to outline
your viewpoint on the fol-
1. The step taken by Prof.
Wiener is bound to be inef-
fectual unless scientists all
over the world join in a simi-

elected representatives of a
country the scientists would
determine, in the ultimate
analysis, what the defense
and the war potentials of a
country. are?
3. Again, as there has
never been an invention
which could not be utilized
for both constructive and
destructive uses all scien-
tific efforts would in the
long run be affected.
4. Have scientists the
right to adopt such an atti-
tude when the laboratories
and all other facilities
placed at their dispoasl are
not their personal property?
Their studies are made
possible by universities, in-
stitutions and laboratories
which are in most cases
maintained with public
5. Would not the var-
ious countries have to
create new laws making
the withholding of scien-
tific information an of-
fense, in order to protect
their defense pos-
sibilities? I can visualize
that certain scientists
may prefer to face im-
prisonment rather than
disclose their knowledge,
since nobody can compel
a man to divulge what is
closed in his mind.
Instead of individual
groups assuming the kind of
initiative which Prof.
Wiener with his action
suggests would it not be
wiser to concentrate all ef-
forts on a powerful popular

lar attitude. In otherwords,
for the first time in history
we are confronted with the
possibility of having a
strike of scientists in order
to prevent mass slaughter.
Are you in favor of such a
In this connection other
problems are bound to come
up. It is unlikely that all
scientists would join in such
a move. Consequently, sci-
entists in every country are
bound to split up into politi-
cal factions.
Is it not likely that sci-
entists in democratic
countries would be more
willing to join such a
movement than those in
totalitarian countries?
Would not scientific re-
search suffer if such a
movement assumed con-
siderable stre ngth in
democracies while hav-
ing, no support, or very
littlein totalitarian coun-
tries? Would not such a
development give a very
important advantage to
totalitarian countries?
2. While the stipulation
established at the Nurem-
berg tirals that an officer,
soldier, Gestapo man, etc.,
who merely obeyed his
superior is personally re-
sponsible rather justifies
the stand taken by Prof.
Wiener, nevertheless the
question arises whether the
scientists of a nation should
feel free to assume such an
attitude? Would this not
imply that instead of the

Albert Einstein's Centenary Is Marked

100th anniversary of scien-
tist Albert Einstein's birth
will be celebrated officially
on Wednesday. Einstein's
theories of relativity laid
the groundwork for the nu-
clear age, television tubes,
theories on outer space and
most major scientific de-
velopments of the 20th Cen-
Every major physics
journal has an appreciation
of Einstein's work slated for
some time this year. A
major gathering of physi-
cists, including 19 Nobel

Sabbath Greeting

President Carter, whode-
cided to walk back to the
White House last Friday
night after dining with
Premier Menahem Begin of
rael at Blair House across
e street, declined to talk
Lo reporters Who were- wait-
ing outside. All he would
say was, "Shabat Shalom."


laureates, took place last
week at the Institute for
Advanced Study at Prince-
ton, N.J., Einstein's last
academic home. •
Over the weekend, some
of the scholars flew to Bern,
Switzerland, where Eins-
tein worked as a patent
clerk during his most crea-
tive years, while others will
mark the anniversary in

Knesset Miffed

The Knesset's Foreign Af-
fairs and Security Commit-
tee angrily suspended all
work Tuesday to protest the
government's failure to
keep it abreast of the latest
events. Both coalition and
opposition factions were in-
furiated when Acting Pre-
mier Yigael Yadin refused
to brief them on President
Carter's peace treaty pro-

The Smithsonian In-
stitution opeiied a major
exhibition on Einstein
last weekend, Paris's
Beaubourg museum is
staging a - similar pro-
gram, and New York's
American Institute of
Physics has mounted an
Einstein exhibit that will
visit every state.

At least three television
films on the man and his
works will be aired this
year. Publishers, including
two in China, are releasing
a mini-library of fresh
Einsteiniana, plus a special
centennial edition of his

The Bnai Brith philatelic
service will offer a special
first day cover to carry the
U.S. commemorative stamp
honoring Einstein. The 15-
cent stamp will be issued
this week in Princeton.

TEL AVIV — Police have
arrested four women for
driving on the Sabbath after
they were exempted from
military service for their
religious _beliefs.

knowledge, and almost not
at all from the pursuit of
practical aims. If scientific
development is submitted to
practical aims, true science
(4) The cornmunity has
every interest in furthering
science through material
aid. However, it must not
interfere in research, be-
cause such interference
would only have an un-
favorable effect on the de-
velopment of research.
(5) Any order to keep a
scientific discovery (in the
field of basic science) secret,
would seriously harm sci-
ence, and thus harm the de-
velopment of the country
which, by issuing such or-
ders, hampers its scientists
in doing really fruitful
work. A state which gives
such orders is, in addition, a
real saboteur of the
spiritual development of
mankind. (On the other
hand, it is practically im-
possible to force a man to

disClose a discovery against
his will if he does not speci-
fically maintain that he has
this particular knowledge.)


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Carter and his wife,
Rosalynn, joined Begin and
his wife, Aliza, in an erev
Shabat meal which in-
cluded gefilte fish, chicken
soup and roast beef, fol-
lowed with the singing of
Hebrew songs.

`Orthodox' Arrest

movement for the estab-
lishment of a world gov-
ernment, which could deal
effectively with the eco-
nomic problem and prevent
Prof. Wiener's action is
bound to raise so many dis-
cussions that the public
would be rendered a service
if your viewpoint were made
Sincerely yours,
Jacob Landau
Dear Mr. Landau: .
In answer to your letter of
January 15th I have the fol-
lowing to say:
I greatly approve and
admire the attitude of
Prof. Wiener and I be-
lieve that a similar atti-
tude of all the prominent
scientists in this country
with regard to the matter
would be very advanta-
geous to the solution of
the urgent problem of in-
ternational security.
With regard to the five
questions you have sent me
I am trying to give you a
short answer in the
enclosure. I am writing in
German because it is easier
for me.
Yours very sincerely,
Albert Einstein
(1) Non-cooperation in
military matters should be
a vital part of the moral code
of basic scientists, that is,
all true scientists whose
field' is basic science.
It is true that it is more
difficult to carry out this
principle . in non-
democratically adminis-
tered countries. These,
however, are at present a
smaller threat to the
healthy development of in-
ternational conditions than
the military mobilization of
scientists in economically
and militarily superior
democratic countries.
(2) There must not be
blind submission to the
law of the state. Moral
law is above any obliga-
tion to the state, in a case
where these may clash.
(3) Development of sci-
ence sprang from a lust for




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