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The betrayal by Klaus Fuchs


Being a house guest of Rudolf and Genia Peierls
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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So Peierls was wonderful and he not only gave me a job but he had me in his house as a guest. I was a house guest of Peierls the whole of that first year in Birmingham. Genia Peierls, the wife of Peierls, was like a mother in a way my own mother never had been. She's a very warm person. She had four kids of her own, always had the house full of students, and many students came through her house with just marvellous memories of her.

[Q] And you spoke English or you spoke Russian?

With her I always spoke English. She had no patience with my sort of half-baked Russian. She spoke of course a very strange kind of English but it was clear and well understood. So, I got along extraordinarily well with her, and she was what made Birmingham really worthwhile for me, and Rudi also. Rudi was much too busy. He had heavy responsibilities as teacher, and head of the department and administration. He had to do almost everything himself.

Freeman Dyson (1923-2020), who was born in England, moved to Cornell University after graduating from Cambridge University with a BA in Mathematics. He subsequently became a professor and worked on nuclear reactors, solid state physics, ferromagnetism, astrophysics and biology. He published several books and, among other honours, was awarded the Heineman Prize and the Royal Society's Hughes Medal.

Listeners: Sam Schweber

Silvan Sam Schweber is the Koret Professor of the History of Ideas and Professor of Physics at Brandeis University, and a Faculty Associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of a history of the development of quantum electro mechanics, "QED and the men who made it", and has recently completed a biography of Hans Bethe and the history of nuclear weapons development, "In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist" (Princeton University Press, 2000).

Tags: Birmingham, Rudolf Peierls, Genia Peierls

Duration: 1 minute, 13 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008