What compelled Albert Einstein to write a letter to the U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt?

Einstein was concerned about Germany’s hostile approach. Though he believed that the time of wars was over, he was wrong. In 1939 the Second World War began when Germany invaded Poland. He heard alarming rumours from other scientists in Europe that Nazi physicists had succeeded in splitting the nucleus of a uranium atom. This is a major step towards making an atomic bomb.

The peace-loving Einstein felt as if he too had a hand in this matter. This terrible weapon was a natural consequence of his own work. The splitting of the uranium atom causes a loss of its mass. This mass releases an explosion of energy. Although this confirmed his formula E=mc2, Einstein was unhappy about the turn of events. Physicists across the globe realized that Einstein’s formula could lead to the making of weapons of extraordinary power.

Soon newspapers picked up this information. In 1939, The Washington Post reported that nuclear fission could lead to weapons capable of destroying everything over five square kilometres of ground. It was then that Einstein wrote to Roosevelt. The letter for President Franklin D. Roosevelt was drafted by physicist Leo Szilard who was exiled from Hungary. In 1939 Einstein signed the letter and sent it to warn the president about Germany’s research. Cautioning Roosevelt about the atomic bombs potential to destroy, he suggested that the US should also conduct similar research.

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