Robert Jungk was born in Berlin in 1913 and died in Salzburg in 1994. After 1933 he worked on documentary films in France and republican Spain and wrote for the Weltwoche in Zurich from 1940 to 1945. He held a lectureship for futurology at the TU Berlin and was chairman of the group "Mankind 2000" in London. The topic he touched on in The Future Has Already Begun was later explored in Brighter than a Thousand Suns (1956) and Rays from the Ashes (1959), internationally famous books that urgently warn of the dangers of unleashed nuclear power.
BRIGHTER THAN A THOUSAND SUNS
The fate of a nuclear scientist
Robert Jungk's 1956 book is a warning against the destruction of the earth. Jungk describes the history of the atomic bomb as "a history of real people" (see Friedrich von Weizsäcker), who in the summer of 1939 had still been able to prevent the construction of atomic bombs and let the opportunity pass by unused. They were morally and politically no match for this threatening new invention. The book presents an overwhelming body of facts and, in an exciting way, highlights the dilemma of famous scientists who oscillate between the urge to research and the torment of conscience. What began in the 1920s as a collegial teamwork of young scientists developed, as we well know today, into tragedy. Researchers who had originally felt committed solely to scientific progress began to realize they had performed "the devil's work", as American nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer was to phrase it.
Today, the world is facing another kind of self-destruction: climate change. It is time to reissue a book that its author saw as a contribution to the great discussion "that may prepare a future without fear".