J. Robert Oppenheimer

Robert Mulliken and the Molecular Orbitals

Robert Mulliken and the Molecular Orbitals

On June 7, 1896, American physicist, chemist, and Nobel Laureate Robert Sonderson Mulliken was born. He is primarily responsible for the early development of molecular orbital theory, i.e. the elaboration of the molecular orbital method of computing the structure of molecules. “…the more accurate the calculations became, the more the concepts tended to vanish into thin air.” — Robert Mulliken, about using old-fashioned chemistry to describe molecular structure, in Molecular Scientists and…
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Bruno Rossi and the Cosmic Radiation

Bruno Rossi and the Cosmic Radiation

On April 13, 1905, Italian experimental physicist Bruno Benedetto Rossi was born. Rossi made major contributions to particle physics and the study of cosmic rays. He was one of the first to use rockets to study cosmic rays above the Earth‘s atmosphere. Finding X-rays from space he became the grandfather of high energy astrophysics, being largely responsible for starting X-ray astronomy, as well as the study of interplanetary plasma. “In any case,…
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George Kistiakowsky – From the Manhattan Project to a Nuclear Weapons Ban

George Kistiakowsky – From the Manhattan Project to a Nuclear Weapons Ban

On November 18, 1900, Ukrainian-American physical chemist George Kistiakowsky was born. Kistiakowsky worked on developing the first atomic bomb but later advocated banning nuclear weapons. In the Manhattan project, he was in charge of X Division, which was responsible for the development of the explosive lenses necessary for an implosion-type nuclear weapon. Education and Academic Career George Bogdanovich Kistiakowsky went to the Russian Revolution in 1917 in Kiev and Moscow in private schools. However,…
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Jordan Carson Mark and the Development of Thermonuclear Weapons

Jordan Carson Mark and the Development of Thermonuclear Weapons

On July 6, 1913, Canadian mathematician Jordan Carson Mark was born. Mark is best known for his work on developing nuclear weapons for the United States at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He oversaw the development of new weapons, including the hydrogen bomb in the 1950s. On the hydrogen bomb project he was able to bring together experts like Edward Teller, Stanislaw Ulam and Marshall Holloway despite their personal differences. Jordan Carson…
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The Case of J. Robert Oppenheimer

The Case of J. Robert Oppenheimer

On April 22, 1904, American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was born. Oppenheimer was the wartime head of the Los Alamos Laboratory and is among those who are credited with being the “father of the atomic bomb” for their role in the Manhattan Project, the World War II undertaking that developed the first nuclear weapons. Oppenheimer‘s achievements in physics included the Born–Oppenheimer approximation for molecular wave functions, work on the theory of electrons…
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Julian Schwinger and Quantum Electrodynamics

Julian Schwinger and Quantum Electrodynamics

On February 12, 1918, US-american theoretical physicist and Nobel Laureate Julian Seymour Schwinger was born. Schwinger is best known for his work on the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED), in particular for developing a relativistically invariant perturbation theory, and for renormalizing QED to one loop order. “Is the purpose of theoretical physics to be no more than a cataloging of all the things that can happen when particles interact with each other…
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Andrei Sakharov and the Soviet Thermonuclear Bomb

Andrei Sakharov and the Soviet Thermonuclear Bomb

On May 21, 1921, Russian nuclear physicist, Soviet dissident, an activist for disarmament, peace and human rights Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov was born.Sakharov became renowned as the designer of the Soviet Union‘s thermonuclear weapons. Sakharov later became an advocate of civil liberties and civil reforms in the Soviet Union, for which he faced state persecution; these efforts earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. “We regard as “scientific” a method based on…
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