En la cara oculta de la luna hay dos cráteres con nombres inapropiados. Así lo considera la Unión Astronómica Internacional (IAU, por sus siglas en inglés) que ha anunciado que en pocos días reemplazará el nombre de los cráteres “Lenard” y “Stark” que rinden homenaje a los científicos nazis Philipp Lenard y Johannes Stark. La decisión de la IAU ha sido calificada como rápida, decisiva y ejemplar.
Philipp Lenard y Johannes Stark -ganadores de un Premio Nobel de Física en 1905 y 1919- no fueron dos científicos que tuvieron que someterse al régimen nazi, como muchos otros, sino que desde un principio defendieron la política de Hitler y fueron determinantes en la difusión del antisemitismo en la ciencia.
En 1930, cuando el Partido Nazi estaba ganando popularidad, Lenard y Stark organizaron la primera reunión de Científicos Alemanes por la Preservación de la Pureza de la Ciencia. En este encuentro acusaron a Einstein de plagio y despreciaron la relatividad como “física judía”. También criticaron la física cuántica de Werner Heisenberg y lo acusaron de “judío blanco” y “peón judío”.
Cuando Adolf Hitler llegó al poder, Lenard y Stark presentaron un proyecto para sustituir a los profesores universitarios por “físicos arios”. Ambos físicos escribieron estas líneas sobre Hitler y el nazismo: “Nos aparecen como regalos de Dios de tiempos antiguos, cuando las razas eran más puras, las personas eran más grandes y las mentes estaban menos engañadas… Él está aquí. Se ha revelado como el Führer de lo sincero. Le seguiremos”.
Años antes, ambos científicos habían recibido un Premio Nobel de Física. En 1905, Lenard ganó el Nobel por su investigación sobre los rayos catódicos, y en 1919, Stark obtuvo el mismo premio por descubrir cómo los campos eléctricos afectan la luz que emiten los átomos, conocido como ‘el efecto Stark’. Décadas después, les homenajearon por sus descubrimientos científicos asignando su nombre a un cráter de la luna.
El inminente cambio de nombre de los dos cráteres ha sido gracias al físico cuántico Mario Krenn, que después de leer el libro Al servicio del Reich. La física en tiempos de Hitler, del científico Philip Ball, contactó con la IAU. “Tan pronto como nos enteramos del problema, iniciamos el proceso de eliminación de estos nombres y preparamos una propuesta para renombrar estos dos cráteres”, explica Rita Schulz, astrónoma y presidenta del consejo encargado de nombrar a los objetos planetarios.
El responsable de la Luna de la IAU, Charles Wood, explica que estos nombres se eligieron porque en la documentación presentada en la década de 1970 no se mencionaba su relación con el nazismo. De hecho, esta no es la primera vez que se cambia el nombre de un cráter llamado como un científico nazi. En el año 2002, retiraron el homenaje a Hans Eppinger porque entre sus experimentos destaca el de dar únicamente agua salada a los gitanos prisioneros de Dachau.
La ciencia también reflexiona sobre sus “monumentos” históricos. Esta noticia es un buen ejemplo de que para “preservar la historia” no hace falta “preservar los monumentos”. Y es que como dice el científico Philip Ball, el homenaje de estos dos cráteres refuerza el argumento de que “los monumentos no son una protección frente a la amnesia histórica, sino que en realidad son consecuencia de esa”.
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