A discussion on what the world has learned about averting a nuclear holocaust. The panelists were ten MIT faculty who were members of the Manhattan Project team, which built the first atomic bombs at Los Alamos, New Mexico. The lecture was opened with a screening of the film “The Day After Trinity.” Trinity was the code name for Alamagordo, New Mexico, the site of the first detonation of the plutonium bomb.
Hans Bethe (1906 - 2005) completed his Ph. D. in theoretical physics in 1928. He then held a position as Acting Assistant Professor at the University of Tubingen, which he lost after fleeing the Nazi regime in Germany. Bethe emigrated to England in 1933 where he held a position as Lecturer at the University of Manchester, and then received a fellowship at the University of Bristol in the fall of 1934. In 1935 he was appointed Assistant Professor at Cornell University, then promoted to Professor in the summer of 1937.
Professor Philip Morrison (1915 - 2005) was Institute Professor Emeritus and Professor of Physics Emeritus at MIT. Morrison earned his B.S. at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and in he earned his Ph.D. in theoretical physics at the University of California, Berkeley, under the supervision of J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Harvey Brooks (1915 - 2004) was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Yale University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1937. He completed a Ph.D. degree in physics at Harvard University in 1940 under the direction of J.H. van Vleck. In 1946 he joined the staff at General Electric, serving as associate head of the Knolls Atomic Power Lab. He returned to Harvard in 1950, and from 1957 to 1975 served as Dean of the Division of Engineering and Applied Physics. In addition to his research on solid state physics, nuclear engineering, and underwater acoustics, Dr. Brooks devoted his energy to the link between science and public policy. More complete information regarding his career may be found in the proceedings of the American Philosophical Society from December 2010.
Niels Bohr (1885 - 1962) was a Danish physicist who made critical contributions to the understanding of atomic structure and quantum mechanics. He was a professor at the University of Copenhagen, and founded and directed the Institute of Theoretical Physics in 1921. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1922, and subsequently collaborated with several world-renowned scientists throughout his career, including Albert Einstein and Albert and Marie Curie. In 1941, Bohr was recruited to work at the top-secret Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico on the Manhattan Project, and became a long-time advocate of scientific openness and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Bohr is considered to be one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century.