nat4b
nat4b
7 August 2023, 18:06

Robert Oppenheimer: interesting facts from the life of the "father of the atomic bomb"

Robert Oppenheimer: interesting facts from the life of the "father of the atomic bomb"
Julius Robert Oppenheimer, whose name is synonymous with the Manhattan Project and the development of the atomic bomb, is a rather provocative figure in the scientific community. His life is a tapestry woven of brilliance, controversy and moral dilemmas. Oppenheimer, with his journey through the worlds of physics, was remembered as one of the most outstanding scientists of the 20th century. But what do we know about him?

From an early age, Oppenheimer demonstrated an insatiable curiosity and deep intellectual abilities. Robert entered Harvard College when he was already 18 years old after suffering a bout of ulcerative colitis while prospecting for minerals in Jachymov during a family vacation in Europe.
Heiki Kamerling-Onnes laboratory in Leiden, Netherlands, 1926. Oppenheimer is in the second row, third from the left.
Heiki Kamerling-Onnes laboratory in Leiden, Netherlands, 1926. Oppenheimer is in the second row, third from the left.
In his first year, he was allowed to study in a master's program in physics on the basis of independent study: he was exempted from elementary subjects and could immediately take up courses of increased complexity. After listening to a thermodynamics course taught by Percy Bridgman, Robert became seriously interested in experimental physics. He graduated with honors in just three years.

Oppenheimer's contribution to theoretical physics was enormous and transformative. Oppenheimer's most significant achievements in physics include: the Born-Oppenheimer approximation for molecular wave functions, work on the theory of electrons and positrons, the Oppenheimer-Phillips process in nuclear fusion, and the first prophecy of quantum tunneling.

Together with his students, he made an important contribution to the modern theory of neutron stars and black holes, as well as to solving certain problems of quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and cosmic ray physics.
Oppenheimer tirelessly read something - from poetry to Eastern philosophy.
Oppenheimer tirelessly read something - from poetry to Eastern philosophy.
Oppenheimer was a teacher and propagandist of science, the founding father of the American school of theoretical physics, which gained worldwide popularity in the 1930s.

Undoubtedly, the most important chapter in Oppenheimer's life was his involvement in the Manhattan Project, the US government's top-secret World War II initiative to develop the atomic bomb. Appointed scientific supervisor, Oppenheimer's genius became key in the successful creation of the first nuclear weapon. However, this achievement was accompanied by deep ethical and moral dilemmas.

Oppenheimer's inner struggle over the use of atomic weapons, as well as his awareness of their catastrophic potential, led him to quote the famous Bhagavad Gita when he witnessed the first successful test of the bomb: "Now I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves examine what remains of the steel tower that held the bomb during testing.
Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves examine what remains of the steel tower that held the bomb during testing.
After World War II, Oppenheimer's life changed rapidly. He became a supporter of international control and cooperation in atomic energy, advocating the peaceful use of nuclear technology. However, in 1949, before the Commission for the Investigation of Anti-American Activities, the scientist admits that in the 1930s he took an active part in the activities of the Communist Party. As a result, in the next four years it will be declared unprofitable.

At the end of his life, Oppenheimer collaborated with Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein and Joseph Rothblatt, jointly founding the World Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1960.
Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer
Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Oppenheimer's life is one of stunning scientific discoveries, moral dilemmas, and societal impact. His contribution to theoretical physics and his key role in the Manhattan Project left an indelible mark in history. His explorations of the atomic realm, as well as his introspective grappling with the consequences of his work, serve as poignant reminders of the power and responsibility that come with scientific discovery.

As we reflect on the life and legacy of Robert Oppenheimer, we are reminded of the complex interplay between scientific progress and ethical considerations. His story inspires to approach scientific research with a sense of deep responsibility and unwavering commitment to the cause.

Source: nndb.com

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