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The Alan Gregg Papers

[Notes on the Atomic Energy Commission] pdf (90,579 Bytes) transcript of pdf
[Notes on the Atomic Energy Commission]
Item is handwritten.
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2 (90,579 Bytes)
1954-07-12 (July 12, 1954)
[Gregg, Alan]
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Nuclear Energy
Exhibit Category:
Postwar Work and Retirement, 1945-1956
Box Number: 4
Folder Number: 2
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Physical Condition:
Thoughts on the AEC Atomic Energy Com. 1954
The physical world exists in conformity with what are called laws, many of which have already been discovered and formulated. Others still await discovery. These others are called "secrets of Nature" but unlike most secrets they are and always will be free to the inquiring minds of any nationality; only in priority of discovery and their present formulations could they be regarded as national property. So in the long view, though governments may regard scientific discoveries as proprietary secrets it is dangerous for any government to take proprietary attitudes toward our present knowledge of Nature's laws for that obscures the greater importance of learning ever more. Hence the advantage of "possessing" the secrets of the atomic bomb is a real advantage but none the less a contemporary and deceptive one. What matters is competence in research. The ability to make money overtops skill in hiding it: those who can't make it attach great importance to the techniques of concealment.
If the above be true one may ask whether the security of the United States warrants the AEC denying itself access to any exceptionally gifted investigator. The success of the Manhattan Project lay more in its having access to Oppenheimer than vice versa. With the establishment of the AEC the task seems to have changed for now knowledge is to be withheld as well as obtained and conduct thought appropriate for hiding knowledge[?] becomes essential. By the terms of the Atomic Energy Act the AEC's duty is to reach a determination as to the character associations and loyalty of an individual engaged in the work of the Commission. Perfectly within these terms the Commission has reached, be it noted not unanimously, a determination that impugns the character, restricts the association, and denies the loyalty of one of its most precious intellectual resources. The decision has been taken earnestly and finally, but on the [. . .]
false premise that the ability to discover truth may wisely be subordinated to an assumed national interest in witholding [sic] it. One set of laws has been enforced: I can only wonder whether the price tag of their enforcement may prove costly beyond present reckoning for I believe that our government should not exaggerate the value "secrecy" as to [. . .] the laws of Nature. The Government should put more faith in the value of finding and loyally maintaining scientific competence than in unprovable [. . .] as to possible [. . .] of dubious conduct: the value of [. . .]
July 12
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