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72

PROPERTY FROM THE FAMILY OF RICHARD P. FEYNMAN

FEYNMAN, RICHARD P.
OPPOSITION TO MILITARY CONTROL OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, CA 1946
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72

PROPERTY FROM THE FAMILY OF RICHARD P. FEYNMAN

FEYNMAN, RICHARD P.
OPPOSITION TO MILITARY CONTROL OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, CA 1946
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FEYNMAN, RICHARD P.
OPPOSITION TO MILITARY CONTROL OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, CA 1946
Autograph manuscript, 4 pp (8 x 10 1/2 in) in blue & brown ink on white paper with watermark of Cornell University, creases where previously folded. 
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"THE PRACTICAL ATTAINMENT DURING THE WAR OF THE TRANSMUTATION OF THE ELEMENTS AND THE RELEASE OF ATOMIC ENERGY HAS ONCE AGAIN EMPHASIZED THAT THE DISCOVERIES OF SCIENCE ARE NEVER GOOD OR BAD IN THEMSELVES. IT IS A QUESTION OF WHAT USE WE MAKE OF THE DISCOVERIES. WE CAN UTILIZE IT EITHER TO FURTHER GOOD OR TO FURTHER EVIL."

In October of 1945, the draft legislation for the May-Johnson Bill reached President Truman's desk. The Bill, if passed, would have granted sweeping powers to the government over atomic power, with the idea that only government control could prevent its misuse. The Bill was opposed by many scientists, including those from the Met Lab at Oak Ridge, because it gave the military continued control over scientific research — something that was no longer acceptable after the end of the war. 

Feynman was very clearly amongst those that opposed the Bill, and was glad to instead see the passage of the Atomic Energy Act, also known as the McMahon Bill, in 1946. The act established the Unites States Atomic Energy Commission, with the purpose of ensuring that nuclear research and development would remain under civilian, rather than military control. While Feyman's earlier papers on the atom bomb focus on the problems of science & engineering, this paper shows a distinct shift in focus towards the moral and ethical implications of nuclear research. 

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