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Heisenberg's theory on the composition of a nucleus


Emigrating from Germany to live in Manchester with Rudi Peierls
Hans Bethe Scientist
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In 1933 emigration from Germany was very easy, you just had your passport and I could even take along the little money I had saved and receive in England the honorarium for my second Handbuch article. So that got me well started, and in a way it was very fortunate for me to emigrate because the world opened much more widely, and especially fortunately, it turned out that in Manchester there was also Rudi Peierls who had become a friend of mine in Munich and who had a wife and a newborn baby and offered me a room in his house which made me feel completely at home. So not only did I have a good place to stay, but in addition to that, Peierls and I could discuss physics constantly. We lived together, we went to the lab and we discussed physics almost all the time. Peierls was much more open to the... news in physics than I was, so he was well-informed about everything that went on in nuclear physics.

The late German-American physicist Hans Bethe once described himself as the H-bomb's midwife. He left Nazi Germany in 1933, after which he helped develop the first atomic bomb, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1967 for his contribution to the theory of nuclear reactions, advocated tighter controls over nuclear weapons and campaigned vigorously for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

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: Germany, Manchester, Rudi Peierls

Duration: 1 minute, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008