Sir Joseph Rotblat
1995 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
"Remember your humanity. It is a diabolical concept that in order to survive we believe we have to kill.”
~ Sir Joseph Rotblat
Rotblat was born to a Jewish family in 1908 in Warsaw, Poland. His family lost everything during World War I. Eventually he was able to attend Warsaw's Free University where he studied Physics. When he was 31 years old, he went to England to work in a world-renowned physics laboratory that had developed a new machine that could split atoms. Rotblat and the other scientists discovered that if they could split atoms, a huge amount of energy would be released, energy that could be used to provide electricity for a whole city or that could be used to make a very dangerous explosion. That same year, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. There was growing concern in the scientist community that Hitler and the Nazi army would develop an atomic bomb.
After Rotblat's wife was killed by the Nazis in Poland, Rotblat went to the United States to work on the Manhattan Project, a large-scale effort dedicated to developing the first atomic bomb. Rotblat left the project and returned to Britain after learning that Nazi Germany was able to build an atomic bomb. He objected to the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan, and soon after, shifted the focus of his research to medical physics. In 1950 he became a professor of physics at St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College at the University of London and worked to convince the world of the negative consequences of the atomic bomb and nuclear radiation.
In 1955, Rotblat and other prominent scientists, such as Albert Einstein, signed a manifesto that criticized the proliferation of nuclear arms. The manifesto led to the founding of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs to promote nuclear disarmament. In 1995, on the fiftieth anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Rotblat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1998, he was knighted by the Queen of England. He died on August 31, 2005 in London. Rotblat became a member of PeaceJam in 2003.