IBON Foundation pays tribute to the achievements, revolutionary spirit and humility of Joan Hinton who passed away on June 8 at age 89.
Ms. Hinton was immensely intelligent, becoming one of the few women physicists involved in the Manhattan Project which developed the first atomic bomb. She was immensely principled, turning to activism after the United States (US) bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Ms. Hinton was among scores of scientists who actively opposed such use by the military of nuclear weapons.
By 1948 she was in China actively participating in the struggle to build Socialism. She made this country her home for the decades to come– witnessing the founding of the People’s Republic, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. “I did not want to spend my life figuring out how to kill people,” she had said in 2002. “I wanted to figure out how to let people have a better life, not a worse life.”
She met and married Sid Engst in China, and they were a part of the Chinese people’s great revolutionary undertaking as translators, editors and agriculturalists on collective farms. Ms. Hinton was a true scientist of the people; among others, she designed and built farm machinery including windmills, milk pasteurizers, silage choppers and combine harvesters.
Their commitment to Socialism was firm even upon the tumultuous changes in China since the mid-1970s and strived against what she called “betrayals of the Socialist cause”. Ms. Hinton died in Beijing, like her husband Sid in 2003.
Ms. Hinton’s life is an inspiring story and IBON Foundation is proud to have published a book about the courageous Joan and Sid in 2009, Silage Choppers and Snake Spirits, as told by Dao-yuan Chou. We are very deeply saddened by her passing and send our sincerest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.