One of the world's greatest physicists, Julius Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) was known as "the father of the atomic bomb." Born on this day in New York, he was the son of a German immigrant and graduated from Harvard University in 1925.
"Things which stimulate my curiosity are pretty far removed from the practical and therefore from classification," said the brilliant physicist.
An expert in quantum theory, as the director of the Manhattan Project, Oppenheimer assembled a group of about 6,000 expert scientists and supervised the atomic bomb creation in Los Alamos during World War II.
The supersecret project took three years. Upon the 1945 successful test detonation in the New Mexico desert, he said, "We knew the world would not be the same." Within a month, devastating atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
After the war, he became a scientific advisor to the Federal Government and lobbied for international control of atomic energy. "Science is not everything, but science is very beautiful," he said.
"It did not take atomic weapons to make man want peace, a peace that would last" Oppenheimer once observed. "But the atomic bomb was the turn of the screw. It had made the prospect of future war unendurable."
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