(The Hill) – Friday’s release of the critically acclaimed film Oppenheimer gives audiences a new look at the physicist dubbed “the father of the atomic bomb.”
Cillian Murphy plays the title role in Christopher Nolan’s biopic, based on Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin’s 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning biopic American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Greg Harken, author ofbrotherhood of bombs: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller described Oppenheimer as “complex and contradictory”.
“He can be unnecessarily cruel, but he can also be very generous,” Harken told The Hill this week.
Here are five little-known facts about the real-life Oppenheimer who changed the course of history before he died of throat cancer in 1967 at the age of 62.
intelligence evident from an early age
New York Times, In a 1963 profile Oppenheimer’s paper describes how the up-and-coming scientist “frequently went to the playground” when he was in the third or fourth grade.
The Times reported that “a child threw a ball from the playground and the manager criticized the way he threw it.” “But young Robert calculated his force when the ball hit the pavement and proved that no one could be hurt.”
Sherwin and Byrd write in their book that Oppenheimer was already conducting laboratory experiments in the third grade.
At the age of 10, I studied physics and chemistry.
And, according to the authors of “American Prometheus,” Oppenheimer’s intelligence was sometimes considered “too precious.”
“When he was nine, I heard him say to an older girl cousin, ‘Ask me a question in Latin. I’ll answer in Greek.'”
The mystery surrounding the ‘J’ in his name
Oppenheimer’s birth certificate shows that the “J” in his name is a tribute to his father, Julius.
The scientist fathers Byrd and Sherwin wrote, “Already decided to name their eldest son Robert, but, according to family lore, at the last moment they decided to add the first initial ‘J’ before ‘Robert’.”
However, Los Alamos National Laboratory pointed out in the article In a 1946 letter to the United States Patent Office, Oppenheimer wrote, “This proves that I have no first name other than the letter J, and that my full name is J. Robert Oppenheimer.”
In either case, Oppenheimer “will always be called Robert,” according to Byrd and Sherwin.
He took private lessons to learn Sanskrit
After meeting a Sanskrit professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Oppenheimer sought tutoring to learn the ancient language.
Oppenheimer’s friend Harold Charnis said, “He liked difficult things,” Byrd and Sherwin write in the book.
“And almost everything was easy for him, so what really got his attention was inherently difficult,” Charnis said.
Shortly after the lesson began, Oppenheimer was reading the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.
“He had the ability to speak,” Herken said, describing how Oppenheimer delivered lectures in Dutch when he was teaching a course at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
When Oppenheimer asked one of his graduate students to take over the class, the student replied, “But Robert, I don’t speak Dutch.”
But Oppenheimer is said to have retorted to the student, “Dutch is very easy.”
Einstein urged to avoid the red hunt
Oppenheimer’s secrecy clearance became the focus of a four-week public hearing by the United States Atomic Energy Commission in 1954.
Harken admitted that Oppenheimer had some ties to the Communist Party, calling it a “casual relationship,” but the committee eventually revoked Oppenheimer’s clearance after the hearing, which critics said fueled the horrors of the McCarthy-era Red Scare.
Ahead of the hearing, Albert Einstein tried to persuade fellow scientist Oppenheimer to resign from the committee and avoid public disputes.
“Einstein argued that Oppenheimer was ‘not obliged to be exposed to witch-hunting, has served the country well, and this is the reward for her’.” [America] I offered to turn my back on her,” Byrd and Sherwin write in the book.
After Oppenheimer rejected the advice, Einstein “walked into his office in Fald Hall and, nodding in Oppenheimer’s direction, said to his assistant: ‘Nala is coming.'” [fool]”
he later felt guilty about his role in the Manhattan Project
“When the bomb went off, there was no question that Oppenheimer celebrated effectively,” said Harken, a former professor and historian at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Merced.
But after the United States dropped two bombs that helped Oppenheimer develop on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945, killing tens of thousands of people, physicists “had such doubts.”
“He was certainly reserved and I think he felt guilty after the casualty numbers were known,” Harken said.
of [1945letter[1945年の手紙 Oppenheimer wrote to Secretary of War Henry Stimson, “We do not believe that the security of this country can depend wholly or primarily on scientific and technological capabilities, as opposed to the ability to inflict damage on enemy powers.”
“It can only be based on making future wars impossible,” he said.
“He never apologized for the bomb,” Herken said. “He never said, ‘I regret that the bomb was used.’ I think his point was probably not very wordy, but it was necessary.”
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