JUNE 7, 1948
HYDE PARK, Sunday—It seems to me we forget very easily the great catastrophes that come in different parts of the country because of what seems to be uncontrollable circumstances. With foresight we could prevent some of them, but apparently it takes a great many so-called "acts of God" before men will get together to ward them off.
The floods in the northwest have pointed up again the loss of life and property brought about by floods in various parts of the country year after year. True, the expense of doing a really thorough job along our great rivers would be very high. Yet it would be nothing compared to the tremendous material loss which people continue to suffer from these great catastrophes.
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I was reminded the other day of the great fire that swept Bar Harbor, Maine, when I heard of the Emergency committee which was rebuilding the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial laboratory there. Scientists have taken a prominent part in rebuilding this laboratory—where the work has been unique in cancer research and in research of other diseases such as polio, influenza, yellow fever, rabies, and tuberculosis—and a month ago they broke ground for a new building.
The loss of this laboratory affects every individual throughout the country. Scientists, of course, are more keenly aware in technical terms of what the loss means. But people everywhere in the nation to some extent depend for their future well being on the research done in these dread diseases, and therefore all should help to replace this laboratory so that the work of the scientists there can go on.
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Almost simultaneously with the news of the new laboratory, I received a note about the articles appearing in the New York Herald Tribune and written by Stephen White after his visit to the atomic energy laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Many of us do not realize the unhappy effect that has been caused by the loyalty checkups on the scientists working there.
It is important, of course, that no subversive person should be allowed to work in these laboratories. On the other hand, I imagine it would be extremely difficult for anyone working there to cover sufficient ground, and gain any knowledge complete enough, to do the country's security great harm. The accusations against the loyalty of individual scientists make them all feel that they are open to suspicion, and create an atmosphere which is not favorable to scientific research.
I shall be glad when the day comes that the United Nations controls all this knowledge and individual nations no longer have to be suspicious of each other.