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Einstein/Russell - "weapons of mass destruction"

Posted by Bob on July 18, 2000

In Reply to: Einstein/Russell - "weapons of mass destruction" posted by Barney on July 15, 2000

: : : : : To readers of this list:

: : : : : I am interested in the origins of the phrase
: : : : : "weapons of mass destruction." Does anyone
: : : : : have any idea of its earliest usage, or
: : : : : where I might look for info?

: : : : : Thanks very much.
: : : : : Nina
: : : : I'd also be interested to find out who coined this phrase. Doing a search in Altavista the earliest references I could find are:
: : : : 1. 1977 - a paper entitled "Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Environment" by A.H. Westing.
: : : : 2. A folder entitled "Weapons of Mass Destruction" being an archive of activities conducted by a peace movement group called SANE between 1968-1975. In this case the title may have came after the fact. (

: : : Upon doing a bit more searching it appears likely that Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein may have originated the phrase in a co-authored document known as the Pugwash Manifesto, issued in July 1955. The document begins

: : : "In the tragic situation which confronts humanity, we feel that scientists should assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction, and to discuss a resolution in the spirit of the appended draft."

: :
: : Link to Pugwash Manifest:

: :

: There is an interesting fact about the phrase " weapons of mass destruction" that escapes most people and it's this: during the process of fission of the Uranium U235/Plutonium in an atomic bomb or the fusion of the deuterium in a Hydrogen bomb, mass is indeed destroyed in that a proportion is converted to energy.

: I bet absolutely nobody wanted to know that but I felt that I ought to get it off my chest.
So it may have been Einstein's subtle pun in there. Count me among the few who Did want to know that.