Cohen, Samuel Theodore

Cohen, Samuel Theodore,

1921–2010, American physicist known as the "father of the neutron bomb," b. Brooklyn, N.Y., grad. Univ. of California, Los Angeles, 1943. He worked on the Manhattan ProjectManhattan Project,
the wartime effort to design and build the first nuclear weapons (atomic bombs). With the discovery of fission in 1939, it became clear to scientists that certain radioactive materials could be used to make a bomb of unprecented power. U.S.
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, becoming an expert on the radiological effects the atomic bomb, and subsequently worked (1947–69) for the Rand CorporationRand Corporation,
research institution in Santa Monica, Calif.; founded 1948 and supported by federal, state, and local governments, as well as by foundations and corporations. Its principal fields of research are national security and public welfare.
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. As a consultant to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he developed (1958) the neutron bomb, a modification of the hydrogen bombhydrogen bomb
or H-bomb,
weapon deriving a large portion of its energy from the nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes. In an atomic bomb, uranium or plutonium is split into lighter elements that together weigh less than the original atoms, the remainder of the mass
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 that is designed to produce lethal neutron radiation but no long-term radioactive contamination. Seeing the neutron bomb as a weapon tailored to destroy the enemy on the battlefield, Cohen was a advocate of the device's deployment as a tactical weapon, but despite a successful test the bomb was not produced by the United States until the 1980s and was never deployed. He wrote a number of books on the neutron bomb and nuclear warfare.


See his memoir (2000, pub. online).