Edward Corson book published atomic energy matters FBI files 1951

February 24, 2014

The FBI in 1951 have a memo about a book that Edward Corson was about to have published concerning “atomic energy matters.”


Page 1 of pdf.

FBI memo dated May 2, 1951

To: Director

From: D. M. Ladd

Subject: Edward Michael Corson aka Edward Anatol Corson (or Anatole)

To advise that XXX informed on April 28, 1951 that subject was having a book published concerning atomic energy. XXX desired to know if anything was wrong with the subject and urged that the subject be afforded
clearance to work in the atomic energy field. Bufiles reflect that the subject is an atomic
scientist who corresponded with Emil Klaus Fuchs on February 10, 1950, advising that he did not believe
the accusations against Fuchs.

To further recommend that the Atomic Energy Commission be informed by liason that the subject is having a book published concerning atomic energy matters.

Reference is made to the memorandum from Mr. Guy Hottel, dated May 1, 1951, advising that on April 28, 1951, he interviewed XXX who informed that he, XXX, recently talked to the subject, Edward Michael Corson. XXX reported that Corson is in the process of having a book published which deals with mathematics and chemisty of meetals in the atomic energy field. XXX futher reported that Corson informed him that he had an emotional breakdown as a result of the arrest of Emil Klaus Fuchs for espionage and has not been able to secure proper clearance to work (in the atomic energy field).


Corson, Edward Anatole Michael, Ph.D. 1945

Anatol v Anatole as spelling. Bufiles indicate an Anatol, although they might have added an e at the end using a pencil or pen. JHU has Anatole.

The book that Bufiles are talking about is apparently,

Perturbation methods in the quantum mechanics of n-electron systems.
Author: E M Corson
Publisher: New York, Hafner Pub. Co. [1951]

This book is the one discussed in the prior post.

The description in Bufiles sounds like it is about atomic energy related matters relevant to the atomic bomb or processing of bomb materials. However, the book Perturbation Methods is a theoretical book in quantum mechanics and is not oriented towards applications relevant to atom bombs or fuel processing.

The Bufiles description was so different than how I think of the Corson book that I had to think about it to connect this is the book they are talking about. A physicist would not describe the Corson book with the language in Bufiles.

(Note the great question of whether Bufiles is a singular or plural subject cannot be resolved in this post. Contrary definitions may be assumed without warning.)

This memo in Bufiles illustrates the gap in understanding between the FBI and scientists and academics. To the scientist, the Corson book is obviously no threat to national security and doesn’t disclose anything dangerous.

In a literal sense, the Corson book does relate to atomic energy matters. However, this is a different meaning of atomic energy than what the FBI is thinking. You can use the perturbation methods in the book to calculate theoretically atomic energy levels. These are the energy of the electrons speaking loosely. However, electron energy levels don’t have any relevance to atomic energy in the sense of a reactor or bomb or fuel processing. So the book has no real value for atomic energy work in the sense of bombs or reactors or fuel processing.

For scientists, the description of the book in Bufiles does not correspond to how they think about the Corson book. This gap in thinking mattered in the Klaus Fuchs and Corson investigations. The scientists took advantage of this gap to throw dust in the eyes of the FBI. Oppenheimer knew about the plagiarism by Corson of Fock and the Fock Letter. They also knew that would lead to Corson knowing that Born was a victim of plagiarism by Dirac and that Kapitsa knew of it and knew that Rutherford made Bohr and Sommerfeld, Fellows of the Royal Society the year after to keep them quiet. They knew Heisenberg knew of this. They also knew of the attempt on Heisenberg’s life authorized by Weisskopf and Oppenheimer. The FBI might have realized that they were trying to kill Heisenberg late in the war not to stop Germany getting an atomic bomb but to stop Heisenberg telling the FBI about these things after he was captured when the war ended.

If so, the FBI could have focused on Max Born. After Fuchs was arrested in January 1950, many people connected to Max Born left for the Eastern Bloc or had already. This included the 4 Chinese and Leopold Infeld. Oppenheimer was a Max Born assistant and was at Cambridge when the plagiarism occurred there.

The Oppenheimer Security Clearance hearings would have been vastly different if the FBI had known this. They could have discovered the Max Born spy ring and realized that Fuchs was just one of many that were part of it. They also could have realized that the chance Edward Corson was a Communist and spy was much greater.

The universities have known that the FBI comes up short in its ability to do investigations of Russian spying and Chinese spying because it has gaps in its understanding like the one here. Instead of bridging the gap, the universities exploit it to deceive the FBI and other parts of the government. The universities not only undermined the Klaus Fuchs and Corson investigation, but also the Oppenheimer investigation and Peierls investigation.

Oppenheimer knew this when he withheld the information about the Corson plagiarism of Fock and the Fock letter. Dancoff’s plagiarism of Tamm was also concealed. Dancoff was a student of Oppenheimer and worked on the atom bomb during the war. Oppenheimer knew from the war that he was under investigation from time to time.


The Oppenheimer Security Clearance started in April 1954.

Max Born was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in the fall of 1954.


The FBI never connected these. The universities took advantage of the FBI’s gaps in knowledge to block and subvert the FBI investigations of Oppenheimer, Fuchs, Corson and Peierls. The FBI never realized that if it focused on Max Born it would get a better understanding of seemingly unrelated events such as Weisskopf and Oppenheimer, both Max Born assistants, trying to get Heisenberg, another Max Born assistant, killed before the war ended.

As it was, the Max Born assistants include many known Communists or spies including Klaus Fuchs, Leopold Infeld, Cheng Kaijia, Huanwu Peng, Kun Huang, and another Chinese.

If the FBI had been able to focus on Max Born and the plagiarism links and what his assistants knew of each other, they could have found out that Klaus Fuchs was just one of many Max Born assistants who were spies. Since Oppenheimer was one, that would have made his security clearance that much more doubtful. It would also have changed the course of the Oppenheimer investigation.

Edward Teller and Hans Bethe had a heated discussion the night before Teller testified at the Oppenheimer Security Clearance. If the FBI understood the plagiarism and Russia’s use of it and how this linked the Max Born assistants together, they could have questioned Edward Teller and learned additional information that Bethe did not want told.

When the Sudoplatov book came out in 1994, saying more scientists were involved, Hans Bethe and Victor Weisskopf were the ones attacking it and PBS for covering it. They were still covering up at that time. Moreover, more was known then of the role of the Chinese Max Born assistants who went back to China and worked on the atomic bomb. However, the FBI never put it all together. Hans Bethe and Victor Weisskopf were still blowing dust in their eyes in 1994. They were still concealing the focal point of Max Born.



An early response came from three Manhattan Project physicists in a letter of protest to McNeil-Lehrer. Hans Bethe, Robert R. Wilson and Victor Weisskopf expressed amazement that the program would broadcast such scandalous charges without trying to check the facts. “As a result,” they wrote, “you helped a criminal, who has mounted a highly skilled effort to make himself rich, to slander some of the greatest scientists of this century.” The American Physical Society promptly organized a press conference in which physicists and historians combined to warn that there were strong reasons to doubt Sudoplatov’s claims.

Notice the title, The Physics Community Replies. So the Physics Community as a whole is responsible for concealing even in 1994 the relevance of the plagiarism to Russia’s tradecraft to deal with academics. That was vital information for the FBI to realize that Russia was using this tradecraft to help get IMF loans from Stanley Fischer and Larry Summers. That cover up continues today during the Stanley Fischer confirmation background investigation.

The above contains speculation and hypotheses. Please restate as questions. All other disclaimers apply.


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