Einstein's Equation Of Life and Death

Einsteins Equation Of Life and DeathIn the summer of 1939 Albert Einstein was on holiday in a small resort town on the tip of Long Island. His peaceful summer, however, was about to be shattered by a visit from an old friend and colleague from his years in Berlin. The visitor was the physicist Leo Szilard. He had come to tell Einstein that he feared the Nazis could soon be in possession of a terrible new weapon and that something had to be done.

Szilard believed that recent scientific breakthroughs meant it was now possible to convert mass into energy. And that this could be used to make a bomb. If this were to happen, it would be a terrible realisation of the law of nature Einstein had discovered some 34 years earlier. September 1905 was Einstein's 'miracle year'. While working as a patents clerk in the Swiss capital Berne Einstein submitted a three-page supplement to his special theory of relativity, published earlier that year. In those pages he derived the most famous equation of all time; e=mc², energy is equal to mass multiplied by the speed of light squared.

The equation showed that mass and energy were related and that one could, in theory, be transformed into the other. But because the speed of light squared is such a huge number, it meant that even a small amount of mass could potentially be converted into a huge amount of energy. Ever since the discovery of radioactivity in the late 19th century, scientists had realised that the atomic nucleus could contain a large amount of energy. Einstein's revolutionary equation showed them, for the first time, just how much there was. (Excerpt from bbc.co.uk)

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 48 minutes)

271
7.47
12345678910
Ratings: 7.47/10 from 32 users.

More great documentaries

Comments and User Reviews

  • http://www.denish.com.au Dennis

    e=mc²

  • coyote03

    really good documentary, I even like the little recreations of Einstein and Szilard's conversations :) Definitely worth a watch!

  • Henry

    Wow, this was a fabulous documentary. The acting is great and the storyline even better, it is almost like a short movie about science. I would recommend anyone and everyone to watch this.

  • Ruslan

    Perfect documentary! Thanks!

  • David N

    ..it was a well crafted documentary. I really like how they avoided any of the bullsh!t justification for dropping TWO atomic bombs on Japan.

    Well worth the watch.

  • peppe baeng

    Yeah this was really good and as David N says,it is really good they never tryed to justify the dropping of the bomb on japan.

  • Arnold Vinette

    Very good documentary except for one important fact. It was a Jewish German woman scientist who had been smuggled out of Germany to save her life that actually discovered the process of how to split the uranium atom.

    It was also her calculations on the released energy that made everyone realize that they had proven the Einstein's equation of E = mc2

    The male German scientist took complete credit for her work and I believe got the Noble Prize.

    The woman's name could be Madam Curie but I am not sure.

    There is another very good PBS documentary that explains the role the German scientists played in the discovery of how to split the uranium atom by bombarding it with neutrons.

    However the goal was to discover how large the uranium could be made when an accidental discovery was made that they had actually split the uranium atom.

    The entire process was a collaboration of a very quiet and shy Jewish German scientist and her more dominant male German scientist.

    The rest of the documentary was new to me with regards to the roles of other scientists and the letter from Einstein that got the Manhattan Project started.

    The Jewish German woman scientist was offered an opportunity to work on the Manhattan Project but she refused because she did not want to be part of the making such a terrible destructive weapon.

    Arnold Vinette
    Ottawa, Canada

  • couldbe

    Lisa Meitner imo .

  • Nadia Porterfield

    I'll never understand how dropping atom bombs on tens of thousands of innocent women and children can be seen as justification for saving the lives of soldiers.

  • allthenamesaretaken

    There were good reasons why dropping atomic bombs on Japan was avoidable. However, what you just said touched on none of those, and makes it clear you think the lives of servicemen, who had already been through hell in order to keep their friends and families safe, were worthless.

    I get what you're saying, and even if I didn't, I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You just might try not to be offensive when you say it.

  • audiophile75

    To Nadia,
    While war is horrendous and many "innocent" people were killed in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, anybody who wants to rant on about the attrocity of it should start by reading the book "THE RAPE OF NANKING" (I think that there's actually a doc on this site about it but you should read the book as it gives more detail and really brings home the reality of it). Then realize that the utterly barbarous behavior of the Japanese soldiers was going on everywhere they went throughout Asia and the Pacific. The tens of thousands who died in those two bombings pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands (millions?) who were brutally tortured and systematically massacered. And what truely holds any compassion for the Japanese at bay is the fact that they still, to this day, refuse to even acknowledge that any of that even took place. If you go around kicking stray dogs and one of them turns around and attacks you, who's to blame?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joanna-Clark/100001687438091 Joanna Clark

    The woman's name was Lise Meitner, and no, she did not receive the Noble Prize. The prize went to Otto Hahn. He corresponded with Meitner, and she explained it to him in her letters. She refused to take part in the Manhattan Project. On her grave stone it reads "Lise Meitner: a physicist who never lost her humanity." Element 109 is named after her.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Robinson/100000577114175 Chris Robinson

    @Joanna Clark, Who?.. point. We were taught that the indians were the bad guys in school, doubful she will ever recieve credit for anything. just saying..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jose-Ferreira/100003168595445 Jose Ferreira

    very nice decumented , however , i want that you people to know that ,
    before de Americans drop those two bombs, they warn very much the Japonese , to GET OUT of those cities , they ( Japonese ) DID NOT , because .. never though that America had that much power of destrocion , ... so,
    Don't bleame so much the Americans ...............

  • http://twitter.com/THEDUUUUUUDE THE DUDE

    Dumbest comment I have ever heard about WWII. I heard people like you existed but i never believed it until now.

  • Jamesy

    Japan refused to surrender. And if you understood the scale of World War Two and the horrendesly large and open killing machines that were created and in movement, you'd understand the decision.

    You'd understand that the invasions of dozens of islands by US forces against relatively small numbers of Japanese soldiers and the ensuing destruction and massacre that took place thereafter, was reason enough.

    The Japanese proved they didn't care even an ounce for life, and that their soldiers, and even their civilians would rather die than give up.

    There was absolutely 0 reason why the US should have lost tens, or hundreds of thousands of troops, only to kill an equal or greater number of troops on the other side.

    Vs the loss of the tens of thousands, the dropping of those bombs prevented the further loss of hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, brought about an end to a war that was shaping up to last at least a year longer, and paved the way for a future where an independent and respectful japan could become prosperous.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marioiferrar De Marco Mario

    They avoid any justification for dropping these 2 bombs ( and the consequent GENOCIDE) simply because there is NO JUSTIFICATION, unless you consider the investment of several billions dollars in a development of a mass destruction weapon as a legitimate justification.

    For those who believes that saved thousands or even millions of life leading WWII to an end:
    You must stop hiding behind a needle and face the real truth, witch is that a warning should have been given to Japanese about the imminent drop of the bomb, as even the most great mind and scientist who actually developed the bomb had struggle to stop.
    THE TRUTH IS: WWII should have come to a stop without any further casualties simply showing to Japanese the power of the bomb achieved, all the justifications for the death of 360 000 human being on the spot it's just a bunch of B------T
    And a shame even bigger is upon these who justify the drop of the second bomb.

    NO MOUSE WOULD EVER BUILD A MOUSE TRAP ( A. Einstein )
    WE BUILT IT AND USED, that i guess put us on a lower level than rats, but even try to justify the use of it is something inconceivable for the human race

  • http://www.facebook.com/marioiferrar De Marco Mario

    Where are the fonts of what you saying? Hiroshima and Nagasaki where randomly chosen based on weather condition, in order to film the effect of the explosion , it's all reported in a declassified top secret document, so Japanese had no idea of what and where, if you paid attention on this documentary you should know that Einstein, Szilard and many others who developed the bomb had desperately tried to let Us make a warning at least before dropping the bomb, but that warning has never been given, that's history.
    However in any war, killing innocents is a crime against humanity, and these thousands of Japanese that burned alive where innocent, so you asking not to blame America so much??? no, they should have been persecuted and end up in a martial court as Nazis did, for the same reasons.

  • fair_go

    Seems to me that the bomb could have been dropped on the japanese war fleet. Along with a message. "we can do this. Do the right thing!"

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Samuel-Morrissey/627791008 Samuel Morrissey

    At least half the scientists who worked on the manhattan project signed a petition, begging the US government to invite Japanese observers to the first test. Oppenheimer and Groves convinced the president not to. The bombs were dropped in order to verify the effects on real people in real cities. Japan was already on its knees. In terms of the war it was unnecessary. They would have surrendered anyway.

  • http://theoryunity.blogspot.com/ GreatMoel

    "(...)The Japanese proved they didn't care even an ounce for life, and that their soldiers, and even their civilians would rather die than give up.

    There was absolutely 0 reason why the US should have lost tens, or hundreds of thousands of troops, only to kill an equal or greater number of troops on the other side.

    Vs the loss of the tens of thousands, the dropping of those bombs prevented the further loss of hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, brought about an end to a war that was shaping up to last at least a year longer, and paved the way for a future where an independent and respectful japan could become prosperous.(...)"
    -------
    - It sounds so comforting and easy to justify an A-bomb attack on hundreds and thousands of people. Pretty logical, even humanitarian.
    This kind of reasoning only leads to even further bloodshed.

    Based on your logic mass murdering and terrorist attacks are much more efficient, therefore more humane. So why would anybody judge al Quaida?
    They kill relatively few people compared to large scale wars therefore based on your logic it completely justifies their ways of reaching a goal.
    ----
    Don't fall for propaganda. There is no way to tell for sure that the A-bomb put an end to the war. The resources and support for the defeated side was getting lower and lower. This was the major reason for the end of war.

    Nuclear weaponry created HUGE amount of profit for certain individuals. In the cold war whole industries were built on A-bombs.
    This could not have happened if the US didn't demonstrate it's new invention.

  • akorndr2

    the start of the arms race, good thing we would never use them again. the bombs sent to japan was a warning and a demonstration. and im sorry fear is a weapon and we humans will use it to the end of times, now the greatest weapon we've made is now the greatest fear we dare to use them. oh it wasnt thousands of troops dying it was in the millions, and im reading these comments thinking troops are people too they deserve life as the next person just these people will give them up so dont disrespect them

  • Rocky Racoon

    They were willing to surrender they didn't want to get rid of their emperor was the glitch.
    RR

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Russell-Cobb/747504060 Russell Cobb

    interesting tid bit to add about dropping the bombs versus a water invasion. In preparation for the invasion, the us army had millions of purple hearts made. In fact all of the purple hearts given today are those made for the attack on Japan. These were made because noone but a few even knew that the bombs were to be dropped, and if they failed, well we had a back up plan.

  • Jason Fushti

    um did i just see bright, colorful "USA" ice cream at 13:00? straight after the "evil, black and white Nazi Germany" footage? Nice one Bernays. Very subtle

  • Arthur Ninja

    Well, I personally think that if one of them has to be bigger than the other, Darwin has been a bigger scientist than Einstein. The problem is that Darwin was a bit more straight to the point in his view. He understood that the truth is not as it was toughed. So he started to define a completely new more realistic, well-based, observed and objective way of truth. The conclusions was as it was. I think Darwin is the first known human walking on earth which disproved religion by the language of reason and he was not afraid to say that believe it or not, religion is not the truth on how we were created. Remember he spoke about the 'religion fabrication of truth' in middle 19th century when the world (including the UK) was pretty conservative and fanatic. That's why, unfortunately from the beginning he was stigmatized, much more as the Einstein (ill explain it bellow why).

    However speaking from the scientific point of view, indeed the theory of Evolution not only showed that we humans are part of the process but it opened a new door of thinking about the world and cosmos before 6000 AD. In this regards I am neither a biologist nor physicist, but I can pretty much defend my theses here that the General Relativity of Albert Einstein was indeed nothing else other than the translation of the Evolution theory in the Language of Physicists. Evolution indeed does not allows anything being Absolute, therefore since there were proves that everything was moving and everything was changing than it was not so difficult to come out with the theory of General Relativity. If Albert would not discover the theory of General Relativity than I am sure I would certainly do it. :))

    Therefore in my view, Charles Darwin created the logical framework of Evolution (General Relativity) whereas Einstein materialized it into Physical/Mathematical Formula. Thus, both should be applauded as the great scientists.

    What distinguish them from each other is their character. I already spoke about Darwin's character while I would say that Albert Einstein was a bit more diplomatic when it comes to expressing their views. I don't think any scientist who read Albert Einstein's writings would disagree with me that he was also an Atheist or Deist, although he never specifically referred to himself as an atheist. However it is obvious that he did not believed in the conventional god or in any other Subjective god. He did always referred to god as a metaphor for nature, cosmos, universe, etc. Some may applaud him for being wise in keeping this attitude considering that even in 20th century people were not open to discuss the godless society, some won't.

    I personally understand this kind of approach kept by him, however this is the only thing that I don't disagree with him and I think this was a cheat to his own believes. I really think that as a scientist he should have not tried to become diplomatic. I really think that when scientists become diplomatic than they betrays they own believes, and for a principal people as scientists should be is a bit unethical. Therefore, personally i give much more moral and scientific credits to Darwin as scientist who deserves the throne of the biggest scientist ever.

  • http://1iotofoto.wix.com/otofoto oQ

    I tried to translate you Avatar's message but it is so long, Bing got all confused and couldn't do it.
    1i

  • Jacek Walker

    All those beautiful and amazing discoveries while in the hands of an unconscous minds are to end up as destuctive weapons of one sort of another.
    This is why growing in consciousness is of the ultimate imortance for humanity now. Anything else is a mere sucidal race to annihilation.