Do Not Destroy What You Cannot Create
"Do not destroy what you cannot create." – Leo Szilard
One of the most important physicists of the twentieth century, Leo Szilard’s (1898-1964) work led directly to the creation of some of the most important tools in modern technology: the nuclear reactor, the electron microscope, and the linear accelerator. Without his intellectual contributions, the Manhattan Project might never have happened, but he was disturbed by the militarization of nuclear power.
Szilard tried to convince President Truman to mount a visible nuclear test for Japanese observers, to persuade them to surrender without the need for dropping an actual bomb. The devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led Szilard to reflect on his own sense of morality and to write his own Ten Commandments, of which this is #4. The tenth is this: “Lead your life with a gentle hand and be ready to leave whenever you are called.”