Sir Joseph Rotblat, KCMG CBE FRS

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Sir Joseph Rotblat, KCMG CBE FRS

Polish: Józef Rotblat, KCMG CBE FRS, Russian: Сэр Джозеф Ротблат, KCMG CBE FRS
Birthdate: (96)
Birthplace: Warszawa, Warszawa, Mazowieckie, Poland
Death: August 31, 2005 (96)
Camden, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom (septicaemia)
Immediate Family:

Son of Zygmunt Rotblat and Sonia Rotblat
Husband of Tola Rotblat
Brother of ? Rotblat; ? Rotblat; ? Rotblat; ? Rotblat; ? Rotblat and 1 other

Occupation: physicist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Sir Joseph Rotblat, KCMG CBE FRS

Sir Joseph Rotblat KCMG CBE FRS (1908-2005) was a Polish physicist, a self-described "Pole with a British passport". Rotblat worked on Tube Alloys and the Manhattan Project during World War II, but left the Los Alamos Laboratory after the war with Germany ended. His work on nuclear fallout was a major contribution toward the ratification of the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. A signatory of the 1955 Russell–Einstein Manifesto, he was secretary-general of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs from their founding until 1973 and shared, with the Pugwash Conferences, the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize "for efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international affairs and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms." Wikipedia EN

Notable awards

  • 1998 KCMG
  • 1995 Nobel Peace Prize, FRS
  • 1992 Albert Einstein Peace Prize
  • 1965 CBE

Joseph Rotblat From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search Joseph Rotblat KCMG CBE FRS

ID badge photo from Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1944. Born Józef Rotblat 4 November 1908 Warsaw, Poland Died 31 August 2005 (aged 96) London, United Kingdom Residence Poland until 1938, United Kingdom afterwards Nationality Polish Fields Physics Institutions Scientific Society of Warsaw 1933-1937 Free University of Poland 1937-1939 University of Liverpool 1939-1949 St Bartholomew's Hospital 1949-1976 Alma mater Free University of Poland University of Warsaw University of Liverpool Known for Medical physics Campaigning for the peaceful use of nuclear technology Notable awards Albert Einstein Peace Prize 1992 Nobel Peace Prize 1995


RTBT The Papers of Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat

Reference GBR/0014/RTBT Creator Rotblat, Sir Joseph, 1908-2005, Knight, physicist and peace campaigner Covering Dates 1934–2005 Extent and Medium 292 boxes Repository Churchill Archives Centre Content and context

Joseph Rotblat was born in Warsaw, 4 November 1908, the son of Zygmunt Rotblat and Sonia (née Krajtman). He worked from the age of twelve, as an apprentice to an electrician, but studied at night and won a place to read Physics at the Free University of Poland. He married Tola Gryn in the 1930s (died 1942).

He was a research fellow at the Radiological Laboratory of the Scientific Society of Warsaw, from 1932, where he gained his PhD, 1938, and assistant director of the Atomic Physics Institute at the Free University of Poland, 1937-9. He joined the staff of Liverpool University, 1939, working with James Chadwick's research group on the early development of an atomic weapon, and then on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, March 1944. He decided to leave the project for ethical reasons, later in 1944, and returned to Liverpool University, where he resumed his work as a physicist and from where he received a PhD, in 1950. After the war, he discovered that his wife, Tola, who had been unable to escape from Poland, had died in Majdanek Concentration Camp, probably in 1942. He settled permanently in Britain and was joined by the surviving members of his family.

He began to campaign against atomic weapons: co-founding the Atomic Scientists' Association, 1946, and instigating the Atom Train, an exhibition that toured Britain, 1947-8, and later Europe and the Middle East. In 1949, he was appointed Professor of Medical Physics at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, where he worked until his retirement in 1976. His research focused on the application of nuclear physics to medicine and the effects of radiation on living organisms. He was editor-in-chief of "Physics in Medicine and Biology", 1960-72.

He continued to campaign against weapons of mass destruction and war and, in 1955, he was a signatory of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, which led to the first of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, 1957, named after the small town in Nova Scotia where the meeting took place. He became the moving spirit of the Pugwash organisation, co-ordinating and attending many of its meetings, which brought together scientists from around the world. He served in the following offices within the organisation: Secretary-General, 1957-73; Chairman of British Pugwash, 1978-88; and President of International Pugwash, 1988-97.

He and the Pugwash organisation were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, 1995. He was also awarded a CBE, 1965, and a knighthood, 1998.

He died on 31 August 2005.

His publications include: "Progress in Nuclear Physics" (1950); with James Chadwick, "Radio-activity and Radioactive Substances" (1953); "Atomic Energy, a Survey" (1954); "Atoms and the Universe" (1956); "Science and World Affairs" (1962); "Aspects of Medical Physics" (1966); "Pugwash, the First Ten Years" (1967); "Scientists in the Quest for Peace" (1972); "Nuclear Reactors: to Breed or Not to Breed" (1977); "Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapon Proliferation" (1979); "Nuclear Radiation in Warfare" (1981); "Scientists, the Arms Race and Disarmament" (1982); "The Arms Race at a Time of Decision" (1984); "Nuclear Strategy and World Security" (1985); "World Peace and the Developing Countries" (1986); "Strategic Defence and the Future of the Arms Race" (1987); "Coexistence, Co-operation and Common Security" (1988); "Verification of Arms Reductions" (1989); "Nuclear Proliferation: Technical and Economic Aspects" (1990); "Global Problems and Common Security" (1990); "Towards a Secure World in the 21st Century" (1991); "Striving for Peace, Security and Development in the World" (1992); "A Nuclear Weapon-Free World: Desirable? Feasible?" (1993); "A World at the Crossroads: New Conflicts, New Solutions" (1994); "Towards a War-Free World" (1995); "World Citizenship: Allegiance to Humanity" (1996); "Nuclear Weapons: the Road to Zero" (1998); "Eliminating the Causes of War" (2001); and with Robert Hinde, "War No More" (2003).

Papers comprising working papers, notebooks, correspondence, lectures and photographs.

The first tranche of papers, which has been transferred from the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, in Bath, comprises: papers relating to research, work at the University of Liverpool and St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and involvement with societies and organisations.

The second major tranche of papers, including some material relating to the Pugwash conferences and symposia , was deposited in November 2012. The remainder of the collections is still being catalogued off-site and remains closed.

The papers were accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to Churchill Archives Centre, 2009. Access and Use

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Churchill Archives Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. A prior appointment and two forms of identification are required.

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Please cite as Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat, RTBT Further information

Further information on Rotblat and his archive is available at

Copies of the printed catalogue (including a partial index) are available at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, and the National Register of Archives, London.

This collection level description was created by Sophie Bridges, February 2009, using information from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Who's Who online and Wikipedia. The papers were catalogued by the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists and the first section of the papers was transferred, January 2009. This entry was updated by Andrew Riley in December 2012. Index Terms Nuclear Disarmament Nuclear Weapons Physics Rotblat, Sir Joseph (1908-2005) Knight, physicist and peace campaigner Churchill/RTBT contains: 1 Personal papers. Not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre. 2 University of Liverpool papers. 9 archive boxes. 3 St Bartholomew's Hospital papers. 27 archive boxes. 4 Nuclear physics and medical physics research. 26 archive boxes. 5 Pugwash conferences on science and world affairs. Includes: papers on the origins and history of the conferences (RTBT 5/1/1-4]; papers on individual Pugwash conferences (RTBT 5/2/1/1-25) except for conferences 36 to 55; and papers on individual Pugwash symposia (RTBT 5/2/2/1-36, except for symposia 37 to 56. Remaining papers not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre. 175 archive boxes. 6 Publications by Rotblat. Not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre. 7 Lectures and talks by Rotblat. Not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre. 9 archive boxes. 8 Broadcasting. Not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre. 9 Visits and conferences (excluding Pugwash). Not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre. 10 Societies and organisations. 46 archive boxes. 11 Correspondence. Was on short-term deposit at Churchill Archives Centre, but now unavailable pending cataloguing. 12 Miscellaneous. Not yet transferred to Churchill Archives Centre.

This site uses Google Analytics Cookies. By using our website you agree that we can place these cookies on your device. Spouse Tola Rotblat

Sir Joseph Rotblat,[1][2] KCMG, CBE, FRS (born Józef Rotblat; 4 November 1908 - 31 August 2005) was a Polish-born, British-naturalised physicist.

His work on nuclear fallout was a major contribution to the agreement of the Partial Test Ban Treaty. A signatory of the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, he was secretary general of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs from its founding until 1973. In conjunction with the Pugwash Conferences, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 for their efforts towards nuclear disarmament.[3]


   1 Early life and education
   2 Manhattan Project
   3 Nuclear fall-out
   4 Peace work
   5 Later life
   6 Sentiment towards Poland
   7 See also
   8 References
   9 External links

Early life and education

Józef Rotblat was born to a Jewish family in Warsaw, Poland, on November 4, 1908, as one of seven children (two not surviving childbirth). His father Zygmunt built up and ran a nationwide horse-drawn carriage business, owned land and bred horses. Józef's early years were spent in what was a prosperous household but circumstances changed at the outbreak of World War I. Borders were closed and horses requisitioned, leading to the failure of the business and poverty of their family. Despite having a religious background, he later on became an agnostic.[4]

After the end of WWI, he worked as a domestic electrician in Warsaw and had a growing ambition to become a physicist. Without formal education he won a place in the physics department of the Free University of Poland, gaining an MA in 1932 and Doctor of Physics, University of Warsaw in 1938. He held the position of Research Fellow in the Radiation Laboratory of the Scientific Society of Warsaw and became assistant Director of the Atomic Physics Institute of the Free University of Poland in 1937. During this period, he married a literature student, Tola Gryn, whom he had met in 1930.

Before the outbreak of World War II, he had conducted experiments which showed that in the fission process, neutrons were emitted. In early 1939 he envisaged that a large number of fissions could occur and if this happened within a sufficiently short time, then considerable amounts of energy could be released. He went on to calculate that this process could occur in less than a microsecond, and as a consequence would result in an explosion.

Also in 1939, he was invited to study in Paris (through Polish connections with Marie Curie) and under James Chadwick at Liverpool University, winner of the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the neutron. Chadwick was building a particle accelerator called a ‘cyclotron’ to study fundamental nuclear reactions, and Rotblat wanted to build a similar machine in Warsaw, so he decided to join Chadwick in Liverpool. He travelled to England alone because he could not afford to support his wife there.

Before long, Chadwick gave Rotblat a fellowship (the Oliver Lodge Fellowship), doubling his income, and in that summer of 1939 the young Pole returned home, intending to bring Tola back with him. When the time came to leave Warsaw in late August, however, she was ill and remained behind, expecting to follow within days, and so once again the outbreak of war brought calamity. Tola was trapped, and all Joseph's desperate efforts in the ensuing months to bring her out through Belgium, Denmark or Italy came to nothing, as each country in turn was closed off by the war. She later perished in the Holocaust in Majdanek concentration camp and Rotblat never saw her again. This affected him deeply for the rest of his life and he never remarried.[5] Manhattan Project

While still in Poland, Rotblat had realised that his work could be used to produce a bomb. He first thought that he should "put the whole thing out of my mind",[6] but with the rise of Nazi Germany he continued because he thought the only way to prevent Nazi Germany from using a nuclear bomb was if Britain had one to act as a deterrent. After the start of the war, he started working explicitly with Chadwick on bomb work.[6]

Early in 1944 Rotblat went with James Chadwick's group to work on the Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bombs. The usual condition for people to work on the Manhattan Project was that they had to become U.S. citizens or British subjects. Rotblat declined and the condition was waived.[7] He continued to have strong reservations about the use of science to develop such a devastating weapon and was shocked in March 1944, at a private dinner at the Chadwick's, to hear Leslie Groves say "Of course, the real purpose in making the bomb was to subdue the Soviets".[6] By the end of 1944 it was also apparent that Germany had abandoned the development of its own bomb and Rotblat asked to leave the project. Chadwick was then shown a security dossier in which Rotblat was accused of being a Soviet spy and that, having learnt to fly at Los Alamos, he was suspected of wanting to join the Royal Air Force so that he could fly to Poland and defect to the Soviet Union.[8][9][10] In addition, he was accused of visiting someone in Santa Fe and leaving them a blank cheque to finance the formation of a communist cell.[6]

In fact, Rotblat was able to show that much of the information within the dossier had been fabricated.[6] In addition, FBI records show that in 1950, Rotblat's friend in Santa Fe was tracked down in California, and she flatly denied the story: in fact, the cheque had never been cashed and had been left to pay for items not available in the U.K. during the war. In reminiscences from 1985 Rotblat tells how a box containing "all my documents" went missing on a train ride from Washington D.C. to New York as he was leaving the country,[11] but the presence of large numbers of Rotblat's personal papers from Los Alamos now archived at the Churchill Archives Centre "is totally at odds with Rotblat's account of events".[12] Rotblat was not permitted to re-enter the United States until 1964.[6] Rotblat was the only physicist to leave the Manhattan Project on the grounds of conscience,[13] though others later refused to work on atomic bombs after the defeat of Japan.

Nuclear fall-out

Rotblat returned to Britain to become senior lecturer and acting director of research of nuclear physics at the University of Liverpool. He decided not to return to communist Poland and naturalised as a British subject[14] and was joined by his mother, sister, and one of his brothers.[15] He felt betrayed by the use of atomic weapons against Japan, and campaigned for a three-year moratorium of all atomic research.[6] Rotblat was determined that his research should have only peaceful ends, and so became interested in the medical and biological uses of radiation. In 1949 he became Professor of Physics at St Bartholomew's Hospital ("Barts"), London,[16] shortly before receiving his PhD from Liverpool in 1950. He also worked on several official bodies connected with nuclear physics, and arranged a major travelling exhibition for schools on civil nuclear energy, the Atom Train.

At St Bartholomew's Rotblat worked on the effects of radiation on living organisms, especially on aging and fertility. This led him to an interest in nuclear fallout, especially strontium-90 and the safe limits of ionising radiation.[9] In 1955, he demonstrated that the contamination caused by the fall-out after the Castle Bravo test at Bikini Atoll nuclear test by the United States would have been far greater than that stated officially. Until then the official line had been that the growth in the strength of atomic bombs was not accompanied by an equivalent growth in radiation released. Japanese scientists who had collected data from a fishing vessel, the Lucky Dragon, which had inadvertently been exposed to fall-out, disagreed with this. Rotblat was able to deduce that the bomb had three stages and showed that the fission phase at the end of the explosion increased the amount of radioactivity by a thousand-fold. Rotblat's paper was taken up by the media and contributed to the public debate that resulted in the ending of atmospheric tests by the Partial Test Ban Treaty. Peace work

Rotblat believed that scientists should always be concerned with the ethical consequences of their work.[17] He became one of the most prominent critics of the nuclear arms race, was the youngest signatory of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955, and chaired the press conference that launched it. After the positive coverage of the manifesto, Cyrus Eaton offered to fund the influential Pugwash Conferences. With Bertrand Russell and others he organised the first one of these in 1957 and continued to work within their framework until his death. Despite the Iron Curtain and the Cold War, he advocated establishing links between scientists from the West and East. For this reason the Pugwash conferences were viewed with suspicion. Initially, the British government viewed the conferences as little more than “Communist front gatherings”.[18] However, he persuaded J.D. Cockcroft, a member of Britain’s Atomic Energy Authority, to suggest who might be invited to the 1958 conference. He successfully resisted a subsequent attempt to take over the conferences,[18] causing a Foreign Office official to write that “the difficulty is to get Prof. Rotblat to pay any attention to what we think... He is no doubt jealous of his independence and scientific integrity” and that securing “a new organizer for the British delegation seems to be the first need, but I do not know if there is any hope of this". By the early 1960s the Ministry of Defence thought the Pugwash Conferences were “now a very respectable organization” and the Foreign Office stated that it had "official blessing" and that any breakthrough may well originate at such gatherings.[18] In parallel with the Pugwash Conferences, Rotblat also joined with Einstein, Oppenheimer, Russell and other concerned scientists to found the World Academy of Art and Science which was proposed by them in the mid-1950s and formally constituted in 1960. After the breakthrough of the Partial Test Ban Treaty, Rotblat was made a CBE in 1965. Later life

Rotblat retired from St Bartholemew's in 1976. He believed that scientists have an individual moral responsibility, and just as the Hippocratic Oath provides a code of conduct for physicians, he thought that scientists should have their own code of moral conduct, a Hippocratic Oath for Scientists. During his tenure as president of the Pugwash conferences, Rotblat nominated Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu for the Nobel Peace Prize every year from 1988 to 2004. Vanunu had disclosed the extent of Israel's nuclear weapons programme, and consequently spent 18 years in prison, including more than 11 years in solitary confinement.

Rotblat campaigned ceaselessly against nuclear weapons. In an interview shortly before the 2004 U.S. presidential election, he expressed his belief that the Russell-Einstein Manifesto still had "great relevance today, after 50 years, particularly in connection with the election of a president in the United States", and above all, with respect to the potential pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons.[19][20] Central to his view of the world were the words of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto with which he concluded his acceptance lecture for the Nobel prize in 1995:[21] "Above all, remember your humanity".

Rotblat won the Albert Einstein Peace Prize in 1992 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1995. He was knighted a KCMG in 1998. He served as editor-in-chief of the journal Physics in Medicine and Biology, and was the president of several institutions and professional associations. He was also a co-founder and member of the governing board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, as well as a member of the Advisory Committee on Medical Research of the World Health Organization. Professor Rotblat was a founding Editorial Board Member of the International Scholarly 'Journal of Environmental Peace' published from the library of University of Toronto, Canada by 'International Innovation Projects'. This Journal is edited by Professor Biswajit(Bob)Ganguly and Professor Roger I.C.Hansell. Sentiment towards Poland

Rotblat was a Polish Jew born and educated in Warsaw, then living in Britain. Until the last days of his life he could speak Polish perfectly well and emphasized his ties to Poland, saying that he is a 'Pole with a British passport'.[2] See also

   List of Jewish Nobel laureates


   ^ Hinde, R. A.; Finney, J. L. (2007). "Joseph (Jozef) Rotblat. 4 November 1908 -- 31 August 2005: Elected FRS 1995". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 53: 309. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2007.0023. edit
   ^ a b
   ^ Landau, S. (1996) Profile: Joseph Rotblat – From Fission Research to a Prize for Peace, Scientific American 274(1), 38-39.
   ^ A Quest for Global Peace: Rotblat and Ikeda on War, Ethics and the Nuclear Threat. I.B.Tauris. 2006. p. 94. ISBN 9781845112783. "Rotblat: "I have to admit, however, that there are really many things that I do not know. I am not a particularly religious person, and this is the reason for my agnosticism. To be an agnostic simply means that I do not know and will keep seeking the answer for eternity. This is my response to questions about religion.""
   ^ Underwood, Dr Martin (2011). "Liverpool University (1939-43)". Retrieved June 14, 2012.
   ^ a b c d e f g Irwin Abrams
   ^ [1] Obituary, The Daily Telegraph], 2 September 2005
   ^ Alan Salmon, Insight, p.15, University of Liverpool (2006)
   ^ a b Obituary, The Times, 2 September 2005
   ^ Milne, S.; Hinde, R. (2005). "Obituary: Joseph Rotblat 1908–2005". Nature 437 (7059): 634–634. doi:10.1038/437634a. PMID 16193034. edit
   ^ Rotblat, Joseph (8 1985). "Leaving the Bomb Project". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 41: 16–19.
   ^ Underwood, Martin (2011). "Joseph Rotblat's Archive: Some Anomalies and Difficulties". AIP History Newletter 43: 5–7.
   ^ Obituary, The Guardian, 2 September 2005
   ^ [2] Nobel Prize Curriculum Vitae
   ^ [3] Peace pledge biography
   ^ "Queen Mary, University of London Notable Alumni and Staff". Retrieved 2007-09-23.
   ^ Rotblat, J. (1999). "A Hippocratic Oath for scientists". Science 286 (5444): 1475–1475. doi:10.1126/science.286.5444.1475. PMID 10610545. edit
   ^ a b c [4]The Political Rehabilitation of Józef Rotblat, Lawrence S. Wittner, George Mason's University History News Network (2005)
   ^ Interview with (2004)
   ^ [5] New Year message 2005
   ^ Nobel Prize lecture

About Józef Rotblat, KCMG CBE FRS (Polski)

Józef Rotblat (1908-2005) – polski fizyk żydowskiego pochodzenia, radiobiolog, członek założyciel i lider pacyfistycznego ruchu naukowców Pugwash, laureat Pokojowej Nagrody Nobla (1995). Współtwórca pierwszej bomby atomowej. Wikipedia PL

О Сэр Джозеф Ротблат, KCMG CBE FRS (русский)

Сэр Джозеф Ротблат (1908-2005) — британский физик и радиобиолог, общественный деятель, член Лондонского королевского общества (1995), лауреат Нобелевской премии мира за усилия, направленные на ядерное разоружение (1995), один из основателей и руководителей Пагуошского движения учёных, почётный и иностранный член ряда академий наук и научных обществ. Wikipedia RU

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Sir Joseph Rotblat, KCMG CBE FRS's Timeline

November 4, 1908
Warszawa, Warszawa, Mazowieckie, Poland
August 31, 2005
Age 96
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom