Einstein Co-Founded the Doomsday Clock to Atone for the Atomic Bomb

A detailed history of the Doomsday Clock and conservative efforts to retire it

Stephanie Leguichard
Dialogue & Discourse
6 min readMar 31, 2022

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Wikimedia Commons Image of the War Room in Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Late in his life, Albert Einstein was tormented by regret for contributing to the development of what is arguably the most nefarious invention in history — the atomic bomb.

He didn’t play a direct role in its creation. But he was complicit in accelerating its development — in 1939, he signed a letter to US president FDR warning that Nazi Germany was likely producing its own atomic weapons. He advised that therefore, the US should pour money into atomic research to keep pace with Germany.

Six years later, in 1945, the atomic bomb was officially born on US soil. Within a matter of weeks, Little Boy and Fat Man were deployed on Japanese civilians, unleashing unprecedented suffering.

Meanwhile, it became clear that the Nazis had never in fact made significant inroads towards developing nuclear weapons.

After witnessing the harrowing inferno in Japan, Einstein was devastated and indignant: “Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I would have never lifted a finger.”

Many other physicists were besieged with remorse as well, including Robert…

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Stephanie Leguichard
Dialogue & Discourse

Writer, editor, leftist activist. Endlessly fascinated by the complexities of human minds and cultures. Completing my MA in Anthropology. sleguichard@gmail.com