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Recording Hans Bethe's story


Hans Bethe
Jeremy Bernstein Scientist
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I did a profile of Hans Bethe and that was complicated because Bethe was very interested, at the time, in the general energy question. He was a very, very serious man and an extraordinarily moral and upright man. And he was seriously interested in the general energy question and he thought that The New Yorker would be a vehicle for getting his ideas out on the general energy question. Now The New Yorker had a point of view about energy, which was absolutely diametrically opposite to Bethe's. They hated nuclear energy, they were very green and all this, and Bethe, of course, thought that nuclear energy was an important part of the mix. So... I explained that, you know, it was going to be hard to get this in and so on. And then I told him, I said, 'To simply have an article with your views of energy is not going to work. It's… we have to say who you are, we have to know who you are to make this work'. And I said, 'The only way this is going to work is if your views on energy become part of a profile. So we have to start from the beginning and then, when we establish who you are then we can, at the end, talk about energy'.

Born in 1929, Jeremy Bernstein is an American physicist, educator and writer known for the clarity of his writing for the lay reader on the major issues of modern physics. After graduating from Harvard University, Bernstein worked at Harvard and at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton. In 1962 he became an Associate Professor of Physics at New York University, and later a Professor of Physics at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, a position he continues to hold. He was also on the staff of The New Yorker magazine.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: New Yorker, Hans Bethe

Duration: 1 minute, 47 seconds

Date story recorded: 15th June 2011

Date story went live: 28 October 2011