J. Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the atomic bomb was designed. The theoretical work of how the atomic bomb would function had to be converted into a practical weapon that could be dropped from an airplane and explode above its target. Oct 06, · J. Robert Oppenheimer is often called the "father of the atomic bomb" for leading the Manhattan Project, the program that developed the first nuclear weapon during World War Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins.
Oppenheimer was born in New York City on April 22, His father, Julius Oppenheimer, was a wealthy Jewish businessman, and his mother, Ella Friedman, was a painter. He had a brother Frank who was also a physicist. Oppenheimer was a brilliant student throughout his life. After finishing high school, he enrolled at Harvard — a year later than expected due to health reasons. He took on additional courses each semester and graduated within three years, achieving the highest academic distinction.
After finishing his undergraduate studies, he enrolled at Cambridge University in London in What did j robert oppenheimer discover he studied under Nobel laureate and physicist J. This paper explained the famous Born-Oppenheimer method, and was a crucial contribution to quantum molecular theory.
However, Bridgman, his old professor from Harvard, also wanted Oppenheimer to work with him, so in order to reach a compromise, Oppenheimer split his time between Caltech and Harvard. He lectured at the University of Leiden, Netherlands for a short period, surprising everyone by lecturing in Dutch despite having little prior knowledge of the language.
He then returned to America, and after a brief illness, became an adviser and collaborator at the University of California, Berkeley where he flourished and gained a large fan following of students in the process. Roosevelt commissioned the building of an atomic bomb.
This project came to be known as the Manhattan Project and it need to be executed as quickly and secretly as possible. The Manhattan Project resulted in the first ever atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, Japan in August After the war, Oppenheimer was made the chairperson of the U. Atomic Energy Commission where he opposed the building of the hydrogen bomb. This led to much speculation about his political affiliations, and many people labeled him a communist especially as what does the obey logo stand for wife, brother and many of his associates openly held communist views.
After a lengthy investigation by the FBI, he was stripped of his security privileges after a public hearing in Almost a decade later, President John F. Kennedy awarded him with the Enrico Fermi Award as a gesture of appreciation for his war efforts. In his personal life, J. Robert Oppenheimer was a quiet and aloof personality.
He was a chain smoker and underweight due to his erratic eating habits and strenuous what color is sandy hook elementary school hours.
He was married to Katherine Puening Harrison; the two had an affair before being married but Katherine divorced her husband to marry Oppenheimer. They had two children, but during his married life Oppenheimer continued his affair with his previous girlfriend Jean Tatlock.
He spent the last years of his life living on the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands, and spending time with his wife and daughter. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in and died in February at the age of His contributions to molecular science, and the course of world history are unsurpassed.
Even though he might have regretted the consequences of his research, and was surrounded with controversy especially in his later life, his genius cannot be denied and the magnitude of his work cannot be undermined. Home About Blog Contact. Robert Oppenheimer.
Born Julius Robert Oppenheimer on April 22, , in New York City, Oppenheimer grew up in a Manhattan apartment adorned with paintings by van Gogh, Cezanne, and Gauguin. His father, Julius Oppenheimer, was a German immigrant who worked in his family's textile importing business. His mother, Ella Friedman, was a painter whose family had been in New Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins. J. Robert Oppenheimer invented “Atomic Bomb”. Julius Robert Oppenheimer was an American physicist who is often called “father of the atomic bomb” due to the prominent role he played in the “Manhattan Project” during World War II. Oppenheimer was born in New York City on April 22,
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. The first atomic bomb was successfully detonated on July 16, , in the Trinity test in New Mexico. Oppenheimer later remarked that it brought to mind words from the Bhagavad Gita : "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.
He used that position to lobby for international control of nuclear power to avert nuclear proliferation and a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. He opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb during a —50 governmental debate on the question and subsequently took stances on defense-related issues that provoked the ire of some factions in the U.
During the Second Red Scare , those stances, together with past associations Oppenheimer had with people and organizations affiliated with the Communist Party , led to him suffering the revocation of his security clearance in a much-written-about hearing in Effectively stripped of his direct political influence, he continued to lecture, write and work in physics.
Nine years later, President John F. Kennedy awarded and Lyndon B. Johnson presented him with the Enrico Fermi Award as a gesture of political rehabilitation. Oppenheimer's achievements in physics included the Born—Oppenheimer approximation for molecular wave functions , work on the theory of electrons and positrons , the Oppenheimer—Phillips process in nuclear fusion , and the first prediction of quantum tunneling. With his students he also made important contributions to the modern theory of neutron stars and black holes , as well as to quantum mechanics , quantum field theory , and the interactions of cosmic rays.
As a teacher and promoter of science, he is remembered as a founding father of the American school of theoretical physics that gained world prominence in the s. Julius came to the United States with no money, no baccalaureate studies, and no knowledge of the English language.
He got a job in a textile company and within a decade was an executive with the company. Ella was from Baltimore. His father had been a member of the Society for many years, serving on its board of trustees from to To help him recover from the illness, his father enlisted the help of his English teacher Herbert Smith who took him to New Mexico, where Oppenheimer fell in love with horseback riding and the southwestern United States. Oppenheimer majored in chemistry, but Harvard required science students to also study history, literature, and philosophy or mathematics.
He compensated for his late start by taking six courses each term and was admitted to the undergraduate honor society Phi Beta Kappa. In his first year, he was admitted to graduate standing in physics on the basis of independent study, which meant he was not required to take the basic classes and could enroll instead in advanced ones.
He was attracted to experimental physics by a course on thermodynamics that was taught by Percy Bridgman. He graduated summa cum laude in three years. In , Oppenheimer was informed that he had been accepted into Christ's College, Cambridge. He wrote to Ernest Rutherford requesting permission to work at the Cavendish Laboratory. Bridgman provided Oppenheimer with a recommendation, which conceded that Oppenheimer's clumsiness in the laboratory made it apparent his forte was not experimental but rather theoretical physics.
Rutherford was unimpressed, but Oppenheimer went to Cambridge in the hope of landing another offer. Thomson on condition that he complete a basic laboratory course. While on vacation, as recalled by his friend Francis Fergusson , Oppenheimer once confessed that he had left an apple doused with noxious chemicals on Blackett's desk.
While Fergusson's account is the only detailed version of this event, Oppenheimer's parents were alerted by the university authorities who considered placing him on probation, a fate prevented by his parents successfully lobbying the authorities. Oppenheimer was a tall, thin chain smoker ,  who often neglected to eat during periods of intense thought and concentration. Many of his friends described him as having self-destructive tendencies. A disturbing event occurred when he took a vacation from his studies in Cambridge to meet up with Fergusson in Paris.
Fergusson noticed that Oppenheimer was not well. To help distract him from his depression, Fergusson told Oppenheimer that he Fergusson was to marry his girlfriend Frances Keeley. Oppenheimer did not take the news well.
He jumped on Fergusson and tried to strangle him. Although Fergusson easily fended off the attack, the episode convinced him of Oppenheimer's deep psychological troubles.
Throughout his life, Oppenheimer was plagued by periods of depression,   and he once told his brother, "I need physics more than friends".
He was known for being too enthusiastic in discussion, sometimes to the point of taking over seminar sessions. Born left it out on his desk where Oppenheimer could read it, and it was effective without a word being said. He obtained his Doctor of Philosophy degree in March at age 23, supervised by Born. He was on the point of questioning me. He and Born published a famous paper on the Born—Oppenheimer approximation , which separates nuclear motion from electronic motion in the mathematical treatment of molecules, allowing nuclear motion to be neglected to simplify calculations.
It remains his most cited work. Bridgman also wanted him at Harvard, so a compromise was reached whereby he split his fellowship for the —28 academic year between Harvard in and Caltech in Both the collaboration and their friendship ended when Pauling began to suspect Oppenheimer of becoming too close to his wife, Ava Helen Pauling. Once, when Pauling was at work, Oppenheimer had arrived at their home and invited Ava Helen to join him on a tryst in Mexico. Though she refused and reported the incident to her husband,  the invitation, and her apparent nonchalance about it, disquieted Pauling and he ended his relationship with Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer later invited him to become head of the Chemistry Division of the Manhattan Project , but Pauling refused, saying he was a pacifist. In the autumn of , Oppenheimer visited Paul Ehrenfest 's institute at the University of Leiden , the Netherlands, where he impressed by giving lectures in Dutch, despite having little experience with the language.
There he was given the nickname of Opje ,  later anglicized by his students as "Oppie". Oppenheimer respected and liked Pauli and may have emulated his personal style as well as his critical approach to problems.
Birge wanted him so badly that he expressed a willingness to share him with Caltech. Before he began his Berkeley professorship, Oppenheimer was diagnosed with a mild case of tuberculosis and spent some weeks with his brother Frank at a New Mexico ranch, which he leased and eventually purchased. When he heard the ranch was available for lease, he exclaimed, "Hot dog! His students and colleagues saw him as mesmerizing: hypnotic in private interaction, but often frigid in more public settings.
His associates fell into two camps: one that saw him as an aloof and impressive genius and aesthete, the other that saw him as a pretentious and insecure poseur. Probably the most important ingredient he brought to his teaching was his exquisite taste. He always knew what were the important problems, as shown by his choice of subjects. He truly lived with those problems, struggling for a solution, and he communicated his concern to the group.
In its heyday, there were about eight or ten graduate students in his group and about six Post-doctoral Fellows. He met this group once a day in his office and discussed with one after another the status of the student's research problem. He was interested in everything, and in one afternoon they might discuss quantum electrodynamics, cosmic rays, electron pair production and nuclear physics.
He worked closely with Nobel Prize -winning experimental physicist Ernest O. Lawrence and his cyclotron pioneers, helping them understand the data their machines were producing at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
In return he was asked to curtail his teaching at Caltech, so a compromise was reached whereby Berkeley released him for six weeks each year, enough to teach one term at Caltech. Oppenheimer did important research in theoretical astronomy especially as related to general relativity and nuclear theory , nuclear physics , spectroscopy , and quantum field theory , including its extension into quantum electrodynamics.
The formal mathematics of relativistic quantum mechanics also attracted his attention, although he doubted its validity. His work predicted many later finds, which include the neutron , meson and neutron star. Initially, his major interest was the theory of the continuous spectrum and his first published paper, in , concerned the quantum theory of molecular band spectra.
He developed a method to carry out calculations of its transition probabilities. He calculated the photoelectric effect for hydrogen and X-rays , obtaining the absorption coefficient at the K-edge. His calculations accorded with observations of the X-ray absorption of the sun, but not helium. Years later it was realized that the sun was largely composed of hydrogen and that his calculations were indeed correct.
Oppenheimer also made important contributions to the theory of cosmic ray showers and started work that eventually led to descriptions of quantum tunneling. In , he co-wrote a paper on the "Relativistic Theory of the Photoelectric Effect" with his student Harvey Hall,  in which, based on empirical evidence, he correctly disputed Dirac's assertion that two of the energy levels of the hydrogen atom have the same energy.
Subsequently, one of his doctoral students, Willis Lamb , determined that this was a consequence of what became known as the Lamb shift , for which Lamb was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in With his first doctoral student, Melba Phillips , Oppenheimer worked on calculations of artificial radioactivity under bombardment by deuterons. When Ernest Lawrence and Edwin McMillan bombarded nuclei with deuterons they found the results agreed closely with the predictions of George Gamow , but when higher energies and heavier nuclei were involved, the results did not conform to the theory.
In , Oppenheimer and Phillips worked out a theory—now known as the Oppenheimer—Phillips process —to explain the results; this theory is still in use today. As early as , Oppenheimer wrote a paper that essentially predicted the existence of the positron.
This was after a paper by Paul Dirac proposed that electrons could have both a positive charge and negative energy. Dirac's paper introduced an equation, known as the Dirac equation , which unified quantum mechanics, special relativity and the then-new concept of electron spin , to explain the Zeeman effect.
He argued that they would have to have the same mass as an electron, whereas experiments showed that protons were much heavier than electrons. In the late s, Oppenheimer became interested in astrophysics , most likely through his friendship with Richard Tolman , resulting in a series of papers.
In the first of these, a paper co-written with Robert Serber entitled "On the Stability of Stellar Neutron Cores",  Oppenheimer explored the properties of white dwarfs.
This was followed by a paper co-written with one of his students, George Volkoff , "On Massive Neutron Cores",  in which they demonstrated that there was a limit, the so-called Tolman—Oppenheimer—Volkoff limit , to the mass of stars beyond which they would not remain stable as neutron stars and would undergo gravitational collapse.
Finally, in , Oppenheimer and another of his students, Hartland Snyder , produced a paper "On Continued Gravitational Attraction",  which predicted the existence of what are today known as black holes. After the Born—Oppenheimer approximation paper, these papers remain his most cited, and were key factors in the rejuvenation of astrophysical research in the United States in the s, mainly by John A.
Oppenheimer's papers were considered difficult to understand even by the standards of the abstract topics he was expert in. He was fond of using elegant, if extremely complex, mathematical techniques to demonstrate physical principles, though he was sometimes criticized for making mathematical mistakes, presumably out of haste.
After World War II , Oppenheimer published only five scientific papers, one of which was in biophysics, and none after Murray Gell-Mann , a later Nobelist who, as a visiting scientist, worked with him at the Institute for Advanced Study in , offered this opinion:.
He didn't have Sitzfleisch , 'sitting flesh,' when you sit on a chair. As far as I know, he never wrote a long paper or did a long calculation, anything of that kind. But he inspired other people to do things, and his influence was fantastic. Oppenheimer's diverse interests sometimes interrupted his focus on science. In , he learned Sanskrit and met the Indologist Arthur W.
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