When I consider universities, I do not consider either universities in general or American universities in particular. I view them collectively.
What is relevant is that Albert Einstein — without whom the United States would not have been the first country to produce the atomic bomb — had not benefited from any university lectures of any country.
True, as a young man, Einstein entered the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (not in Germany, where he had rejected high school at the age of 15!). But even at the Federal Institute of Technology he used only its laboratory (for his own experimentation) and skipped all lectures.
Still, he needed a degree to make a living, and after two years of doing odd jobs, he finally became (what luck!) a clerk (at a patent office).
But how did he become known as the greatest genius of the 20th century? Simple. Just as thinkers (or poets!) did before him! He wrote (and published) his writings. Well, when he was a clerk, it was hard to tell whether he was writing his clerical papers or his thoughts, which Newton would possibly have found insane.
In 1939 an immigrant named Einstein became the key figure of the initiation of nuclear/atom bomb production by the United States and its allies ahead of Germany, Russia, or Japan.
What ensures the survival of a country and its allies in the 21st century? World War II already answered this question in the 20th century. The only ensured (not accidental) victory in World War II was that of the United States and its allies, since the only reliable tool to win a world war then and now is the monopolistic possession of the latest superweapon (which was then the nuclear/atom/ bomb).
If Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia had developed that superweapon ahead of the United States and its allies, the world would have been Hitler’s or Stalin’s, respectively. But instead of channeling all resources into that ongoing atomic project at the time, and its defense against guerrilla attacks and airstrikes, Hitler began in 1941 a war to conquer Russia, and lost it shortly before the United States produced its first atom bombs, two of which it dropped on Japan, and the latter surrendered unconditionally, since its atomic project was also behind its U.S. counterpart.
When pitying the Japanese children who died under the U.S. atom bombs, please remember that the aggressor had been the autocracy of Japan (at Pearl Harbor).
That is, World War II became, in essence, nuclear World War I, the outcome of which was decided by superweapons while all the other weapons and all the other military forces became outdated.
On Aug. 2, 1939, Einstein sent a letter to President Roosevelt, in which he mentioned three physicists (“Joliot in France,” E. Fermi, and L. Szilard), whose work suggested a possibility of production of bombs of unheard-of destructive power.
Einstein closed his letter by warning that Germany seemed to be starting its atomic project.
So, the United States and its allies were mortally endangered, and at the same time had a chance to defeat Hitler without a single American soldier lost, had Stalin’s Russia failed to defeat him at the cost of millions of Russian lives.
One could well expect that a delegation of American university experts, their names bestrewn with academic titles, would write such a letter to the U.S. president. But nothing of the kind happened, while an immigrant named Einstein was not yet even an American citizen!
Yahoo! shows “The Story of the Atomic Bomb” by “Air Force Historical Studies Office.” I do not think that the office would downplay the importance of American universities in its “Story of the Atomic Bomb.” Here is how its “Story” begins:
The story of the atomic bomb started around the turn of the century when a small number of physicists began to think about, discuss, and publish papers about the phenomenon of radioactivity, the behavior of alpha particles, and the properties of various materials when irradiated.
Initially, these persons included well-known scientists such as Ernest Rutherford of New Zealand and Great Britain, Niels Bohr of Denmark, Pierre and Marie Curie of France, and Albert Einstein of Germany.
Later, the “nuclear group” was joined by Leo Szilard of Hungary, Otto Hahn of Germany, Michael Polanyi of Hungary, Walther Böthe of Germany, Lise Meitner of Austria, Hantaro Nagaoka of Japan, and others of similarly diverse backgrounds.
Not a single American educated at an American university is mentioned!
German scientists who were Jews realized that the Nazis posed a deadly threat, and they began to emigrate, mostly to the United States. The émigrés over the 1930s included Einstein, Theodore von Karman, John von Neumann, Eugene Wigner, Leo Szilard, Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, Lise Meitner, Enrico Fermi [an Italian whose wife was Jewish—L. N.], and many others.
What are the superweapons of today? I came to believe in 1986 that one of them was described by Eric Drexler as the molecular nanoweapon in his 1986 book.
In 2006, he published its “updated and expanded” edition, which he sent me via the Internet. But his position has been far more difficult than was Einstein’s in 1939.
In 1939, Hitler was already becoming a sinister figure in the United States. Besides, he knew nothing about strategy beyond Wagner’s operas about the operatic ancient German warriors.
The Chinese military authors of the book, “Unrestricted Warfare: China's Master Plan to Destroy America,” say: “Regardless of whether we are talking about Hitler, Mussolini, Truman, Johnson, or Saddam, none of them have successfully mastered war.” The book was published in 1999.
The superweapons require a special research and a special production, and insofar as these are concerned, the Chinese may surpass Westerners similar to those American university experts who did not surmise in 1939 the possibility of nuclear superweapons.
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