Weisskopf, Victor Frederick. My life as a physicist, circa 1971

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Abstract/Description: Describes choices made in his education; attends University of Göttingen to study quantum mechanics and how working with Paul Ehrenfest shaped his attitudes towards physics. Recounts working with Eugene Wigner and publishing first paper together; anecdotes about Werner Heisenberg whom he worked with as a post-doc. Attempts at first employment during the 1930s in Europe, becoming an assistant to Erwin Schrödinger, then working in Russia. Receipt of Rockefeller fellowship permits study with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen and Paul Dirac in Cambridge; describes encounters with Max Delbrück and Rudolf Peierls, and assistantship with Wolfgang Pauli. Bohr helps him get a position in Rochester, New York during World War II. In 1943 asked by Robert Oppenheimer to join the work at Los Alamos. He discusses the ethical problems of working on the atomic bomb; why he went; his attitude before and after towards physics in general, and towards its application to weapons in particular. Recounts anecdotes about the testing of atomic weapons, and his return to research. Talks about shifts in research interests from electrodynamics to nuclear physics to high-energy physics; recounts becoming Director of CERN.
Subject(s): Bohr, Niels, 1885-1962
Delbrück, Max
Dirac, P. A. M. (Paul Adrien Maurice), 1902-1984
Ehrenfest, Paul, 1880-1933
Heisenberg, Werner, 1901-1976
Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967
Pauli, Wolfgang, 1900-1958
Peierls, Rudolf E. (Rudolf Ernst), 1907-1995
Schrödinger, Erwin, 1887-1961
Wigner, Eugene Paul, 1902-1995
European Organization for Nuclear Research
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Universität Göttingen -- Students
Atomic bomb -- Testing
Science and ethics
Date Issued: 1971