Manhattan Project

Sir Joseph Rotblat and the Nuclear Test Ban

Sir Joseph Rotblat and the Nuclear Test Ban

On November 4, 1908, Polish physicist and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize Joseph Rotblat was born. Rotblat was the only physicist to leave the Manhattan Project (1942–46) on the grounds of conscience. Rotblat’s work on nuclear fallout was a major contribution toward the ratification of the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. A signatory of the Russell–Einstein Manifesto (1955), he was secretary-general of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs from their…
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Otto Frisch and the Idea of Nuclear Fission

Otto Frisch and the Idea of Nuclear Fission

On October 1, 1904, Austrian-British physicist Otto Robert Frisch was born. With his aunt Lise Meitner,[4] Frisch described the division of neutron-bombarded uranium into lighter elements. With his collaborator Rudolf Peierls he designed the first theoretical mechanism for the detonation of an atomic bomb in 1940. “Scientists have one thing in common with children: curiosity. To be a good scientist you must have kept this trait of childhood, and perhaps it is not…
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John Ray Dunning and the Manhattan Project

John Ray Dunning and the Manhattan Project

On September 24, 1907, US-American physicist John Ray Dunning was born. Dunning played key roles in the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic bombs. He specialized in neutron physics, and did pioneering work in gaseous diffusion for isotope separation. John Ray Dunning – Early Years John Ray Dunning was born in Shelby, Nebraska, USA, the son of Albert Chester Dunning, a grain dealer, and his wife Josephine. He graduated from Shelby High…
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Arthur Holly Compton and the Compton Effect

Arthur Holly Compton and the Compton Effect

On September 10, 1890, American physicist and Nobel Laureate Arthur Holly Compton was born. Compton won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1927 for his discovery of the Compton effect, which demonstrated the particle nature of electromagnetic radiation. It was a sensational discovery at the time: the wave nature of light had been well-demonstrated, but the idea that light had both wave and particle properties was not easily accepted. Arthur Holly Compton…
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Alfred Nier – a Pioneer in Mass Spectroscopy

Alfred Nier – a Pioneer in Mass Spectroscopy

On May 28, 1911, American physicist Alfred Otto Carl Nier was born. Nier pioneered the development of mass spectrometry. He was the first to use mass spectrometry to isolate uranium-235 which was used to demonstrate that 235U could undergo fission and developed the sector mass spectrometer configuration now known as Nier-Johnson geometry. “…You try to untangle all of these processes to get at the primordial ratio of the heliums in the cosmic…
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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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The Case of Klaus Fuchs, Atomic Spy

The Case of Klaus Fuchs, Atomic Spy

On December 29, 1911, German-born British theoretical physicist and atomic spy Emil Julius Klaus Fuchs was born. In the time of the development of the atomic bomb at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Fuchs was responsible for many significant theoretical calculations relating to the first nuclear weapons, and later, early models of the hydrogen bomb. In 1950, Fuchs was convicted of supplying information from the American, British, and Canadian Manhattan Project to the…
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Ernest Lawrence and the Invention of the Cyclotron

Ernest Lawrence and the Invention of the Cyclotron

On August 8, 1901, pioneering American nuclear scientist Ernest Orlando Lawrence was born. He was awarded the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the cyclotron. He is also known for his work on uranium-isotope separation for the Manhattan Project, and for founding the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. “I am mindful that scientific achievement is rooted in the past, is cultivated to full stature by many contemporaries and…
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Maria Goeppert Mayer and the Nuclear Shell Model

Maria Goeppert Mayer and the Nuclear Shell Model

On June 28, 1906, German-born Physicist Maria Goeppert Mayer was born. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for proposing the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus. She was the second female Nobel laureate in physics, after Marie Curie. “Mathematics began to seem too much like puzzle solving. Physics is puzzle solving, too, but of puzzles created by nature, not by the mind of man.” — Maria Goeppert-Mayer, as quoted…
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William Penney and the British Nuclear Programme

William Penney and the British Nuclear Programme

On June 24, 1909, English mathematician William George Penney, Baron Penney , was born. He is acknowledged as having had a leading role in the development of Britain’s nuclear programme, a clandestine programme started in 1942 during World War II which produced the first British atomic bomb in 1952. William Penney – Early Years William Penney was raised in Sheerness, Kent, and attended the local technical school in Colchester where he completed his technical…
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