Robert Oppenheimer

It’s the birthday of Robert Oppenheimer, who was born in 1904 in New York City. Oppenheimer majored in physics at Harvard University and earned a PhD at the University of Göttingen. There, he and his thesis adviser, Max Born, derived their famous Born-Oppenheimer approximation in atomic physics. Oppenheimer spent most of the 1930s at the University of California, Berkeley, where his research interests broadened to include astrophysics and nuclear physics. The breadth of Oppenheimer’s knowledge impressed General Leslie Groves, who in 1942 chose him to direct the secret research laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the US atomic bomb was designed and developed. After World War II, Oppenheimer became the third director of the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton. He remained a trusted adviser to the US government on nuclear weapons until his security clearance was revoked in 1953 because of his past ties to Communists and questions about his reliability. Although Oppenheimer was later awarded the Fermi award by the White House for his lifetime contributions to energy research, he never regained his security clearance. Via Facebook.

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