Joseph Rotblat

Professor Sir Joseph (Józef) Rotblat (4 November 1908 – 31 August 2005) was a founder and leading inspiration of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs over many decades.  The only Manhattan Project scientist to resign on moral grounds, Rotblat became an ardent voice for an end to nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.  He said elimination of nuclear weapons was his short-term goal, and his long-term goal was the elimination of war.  He emphasized the social responsibility of scientists, and urged young scientists to spend at least 10% of their time thinking about issues other than their chosen field.  He jointly shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize with Pugwash.  He received many other awards during his lifetime, wrote more than 400 articles, including 24 books, and was widely quoted in the media.

Selected resources:

1995 Nobel Lecture – “Remember Your Humanity

Audio – Joseph Rotblat – Voices of Science, British Library – excerpt – on his reasons for working on the atom bomb

Audio – First of 40 audio oral history recordings made by the British Library.  These 1999-2000 recordings feature Joseph Rotblat telling his life story to Katherine Thompson, the interviewer.  As he never wrote an autobiography, this is an invaluable resource for anyone researching Rotblat’s life and the history of Pugwash.  Links to the rest of the recordings in the series are provided.

Video – “Dear Professor” – includes quotes from Joseph Rotblat interspersed with young people from around the world reading the Russell-Einstein Manifesto

Video  – Vega Science Trust interview with ex-BBC Horizon producer Edward Goldwyn and scientist and Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto (2002)

Video – “The Elimination of War a Necessity for Humankind” – a lecture by Joseph Rotblat at Taplow Court, 1997 (1 hour, 12 minutes)


Braun, R., Hinde, R., Krieger, D., Kroto, H., Milne, S. (Editors), Joseph Rotblat: Visionary for Peace.  Wiley, 2007.  This book includes contributions from Pugwashites around the world.

Brown, Andrew.  Keeper of the Nuclear Conscience: The Life and Work of Joseph Rotblat.  Oxford University Press, 2012.

The Strangest Dream, a 90-minute documentary (available to view online) about Jo Rotblat from the National Film Board of Canada (2008), directed by Eric Bednarski.

Landau, Susan. “Joseph Rotblat:  The Road Less Traveled.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 52, no. 1 (January/February 1996), pp 46-54.

Jo Rotblat: Pragmatic Dreamer,” presentation by Sandra Ionno Butcher, director, Pugwash History Project, to British Pugwash, 8 February 2012.

Open letter to my son on the death of Joseph Rotblat,” by Sandra Ionno Butcher, Director, Pugwash History Project, 5 September 2005.

Please also see Additional Resources for further books and publications, including more by Rotblat.  We plan to add soon a library of Rotblat’s various presentations, please check back.