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My postdoc students at Cornell


Being recommended Emil Konopinski
Hans Bethe Scientist
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[Q] You mention Rose and Konopinski, and... you had mentioned earlier, Viki Weiskopff comes roughly at the same time to Rochester...

Yes, well let me mention about Konopinski. He came to me on the recommendation of Uhlenbeck, whom I asked when I had a postdoctoral position, should I take a certain man, and Uhlenbeck wrote back 'No, I don't recommend that man, but I recommend Konopinski.' Konopinski turned out not only a very good physicist, but also a very nice person with whom I remained in contact for many, many years. His specialty was beta disintegration and he continued beta disintegration all his life and wrote the basic book on this subject.

[Q] So by '37, '38, there's really a nucleus of people.

There is indeed, and with Weisskopf being at Rochester, there are many visits back and forth. Anyway the Rochester Department and the Cornell Department were... used to visit each other constantly anyway, and so that was a very useful... the head of the Rochester Department was DuBridge who was a very good physicist and who became the Director of the MIT Radiation Lab, and later the President of the California Institute of Technology.

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: University of Rochester, Cornell University, MIT Radiation Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Caltech, Emil Konopinski, Lee Alvin DuBridge, Victor Weiskopff, Maurice Rose, George Uhlenbeck

Duration: 2 minutes, 21 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008