Robert Oppenheimer was a theoretical physicist often referred to as the “father of the atomic bomb” for his work with the Manhattan Project.
Early life and career
Oppenheimer was born in 1904 in New York City. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Germany. After the culmination of his studies at Harvard University, he joined Cambridge University in England and began atomic research in the year 1925. After Nazi Germany decided to invade Poland in 1939, Oppenheimer was chosen for be part of the Manhattan Project.
The Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a search for the US military launched in an attempt to find a way to harness the energy of an atom for military uses in war. The project was launched after Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany. Robert was in charge of the scientific department of the project and had been based in Los Alamos, in the US state of New Mexico, since 1942. Oppenheimer went ahead and selected the “luminaries”. The “luminaries” were a number of brilliant and best physicists of that time.
Initially, the US government had allocated $ 6,000 for the project. However, when it ended in 1945, the project ran out of $ 2 billion and they were ready for the first test. The first test of the bomb, code-named “gadget Christy”, was conducted in the same year at Alamogordo in a site that had the code name “Trinity”. The explosion of the test was a success.
One of his regrets was that the weapon was not ready in time to be used against Nazi Germany. Apart from that, Oppenheimer and most of his staff were not happy with the devastating bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The devastation caused by the two attacks would end at the end of the Second World War.
World War II
After his contributions to the Manhattan Project, Robert joined the powerful General Advisory Committee of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. The committee was opposed to the further development of the hydrogen bomb that led to accusations against him that he was a communist. In 1953, it was suspended and its authorization was revoked by the Atomic Energy Commission.
Death and inheritance
His achievements in physics were recognized by the Enrico Fermi award which was conferred on him in December 1963 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. At the age of 62, Oppenheimer died of cancer at Princeton, New Jersey.