Oppenheimer, J. Robert
Oppenheimer, J. Robert(ŏp`ənhī'mər), 1904–67, American physicist, b. New York City, grad. Harvard (B.A., 1925), Ph.D. Univ. of Göttingen, 1927. He taught at the Univ. of California and the California Institute of Technology from 1929 (as professor from 1936) until his appointment in 1947 as director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, N.J. His early work was concerned with the quantum theoryquantum theory,
modern physical theory concerned with the emission and absorption of energy by matter and with the motion of material particles; the quantum theory and the theory of relativity together form the theoretical basis of modern physics.
..... Click the link for more information. and nuclear physics. With Max BornBorn, Max,
1882–1970, British physicist, b. Germany, Ph.D. Univ. of Göttingen, 1907. He was head of the physics department at the Univ. of Göttingen from 1921 to 1933.
..... Click the link for more information. he contributed to the quantum theory of molecules, and later (1930) he published an important paper on the nature of antiparticles, which had been predicted but not yet detected.
As director of the atomic-energy research project at Los Alamos, N.Mex., from 1942 to 1945, Oppenheimer made important contributions to the development of atomic energy for military purposes. After the atomic bomb was used against Japan, Oppenheimer became one of the foremost proponents of civilian and international control of atomic energy; he was chairman of the general advisory committee of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission from 1946 to 1952 and consultant to the American delegate to the UN Atomic Energy Committee. He opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb in 1949 on technical, financial, and moral grounds. In 1953, Oppenheimer was suspended by the Atomic Energy Commission as an alleged security risk, in part due to criticism from Edward TellerTeller, Edward,
1908–2003, American physicist, b. Budapest, Hungary, Ph.D. Univ. of Leipzig, 1930, where he studied under Werner Heisenberg. Fleeing the Nazis, he came to the United States in 1935 and was naturalized in 1941.
..... Click the link for more information. , who was instrumental in the hydrogen bomb's development. Oppenheimer's case stirred wide controversy. Declassified in 2014, transcripts of the secret hearings tend to exonerate him of any disloyality. In Oct., 1954, he was unanimously reelected director of the Institute for Advanced Study. In addition to his contributions as a theoretical physicist and an administrator, Oppenheimer achieved a reputation as one of the outstanding teachers of his generation; he left a lasting influence both at California and at Princeton. His book Science and the Common Understanding was published in 1954.
See I. I. Rabi et al., Oppenheimer (1969); J. Major, The Oppenheimer Hearing (1971); P. M. Stern and H. P. Green, The Oppenheimer Case (1971); P. Goodchild, J. Robert Oppenheimer: Shatterer of Worlds (1985); G. Herken, Brotherhood of the Bomb (2002); J. Bernstein, Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma (2004); K. Bird and M. J. Sherwin, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (2005); D. C. Cassidy, J. Robert Oppenheimer and the American Century (2005); P. J. McMillan, The Ruin of J. Robert Oppenheimer (2005); R. Monk, Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center (2013).
Oppenheimer, J. Robert
Born Apr. 22, 1904, in New York City; died Feb. 18, 1967, in Princeton, N.J. American physicist.
Oppenheimer studied at Harvard and Cambridge universities and the University of Göttingen. In 1928–29 he worked in Leiden and Zürich. From 1929 he was a professor at the University of California and the California Institute of Technology. From 1947 he was the director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Together with M. Born he developed the theory of the structure of diatomic molecules (1927) and determined the mechanism of pair production by gamma rays (1933). With the American physicist M. Phillips, he developed the theory of processes taking place during the mutual collisions of deuterons and nuclei (1935). Oppenheimer explained the nature of the “soft” component of cosmic radiation and proposed a theory of shower formation in cosmic rays (1936–39). During World War II (1939–45) he directed work on the production of the atom bomb; from 1943 to 1945 he was the director of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, and from 1947 to 1953, chairman of the general advisory committee of the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1954 he was removed from all positions associated with work classified as secret and was accused of “disloyalty,” mainly because he opposed the building of the hydrogen bomb and took the stand that atomic energy should be used only for peaceful purposes.
REFERENCE“A Memorial to Oppenheimer.” Physics Today, 1967, vol. 20, no. 10. (Includes a list of Oppenheimer’s works.)
I. D. ROZHANSKII