On August 7, 1945, one day after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Simpson called a meeting of Manhattan Project scientists to discuss ways of informing the public and policy-makers about science and its implications for humanity. The Atomic Scientists of Chicago was formed in September, with Simpson as its first chairman. In December of that same year, the organization began publishing the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago. As the organization became more international in membership, the group dropped “of Chicago,” and has been publishing as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists ever since.
“One of Simpson’s driving passions was the idea that scientists have a social responsibility for their work.”
Don Q. Lamb, astronomer, University of Chicago
John Simpson was a prolific inventor of scientific instruments for space exploration. His first instrument was launched into space in 1952; the last two of his instruments were launched in 1999. In fact, when he died in the year 2000, his instruments in space had been sending data back to earth for nearly 40 years.
Simpson was also a founder of the Federation of American Scientists and in 1959 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. FAS and the Atomic Scientists of Chicago were the core of what was eventually dubbed the “scientists' movement.”
“For the first time in modern history, scientists were saying that it was necessary to make judgments about what to do with their inventions.”
John A. Simpson, 1995
Simpson received many awards, including the Leo Szilard Lectureship Award for his role in educating scientists, members of the United States Congress and the public on the importance of civilian control of nuclear policy. He remained involved with the Bulletin for over 55 years and was chair of the Board of Sponsors at the time of his death.
The John A. Simpson Archive expands a smaller collection of Bulletin articles published since 1998 that was digitized and made available through the generosity of Nicholas and Susan Pritzker, along with former students and colleagues of John Simpson, in 2008.
“John Simpson would be pleased that this rich record of nuclear and scientific history bears his name.”
Henry Frisch, professor of physics, University of Chicago,
and former member of the Bulletin's Board of Directors
We at the Bulletin would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Nicholas and Susan Pritzker, Henry Frisch, Don Lamb, and the many friends of John Simpson for making this archive possible.
Remembering John Simpson
Visit the John A. Simpson Archive at Taylor & Francis Online, home to the Bulletin's subscription journal.