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The Three Mile Island incident


Recording Hans Bethe's story
Jeremy Bernstein Scientist
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By that time, I was working with a tape recorder. Actually, it was Kubrick that introduced me to tape recorders. I didn't have one. But he had a reel-to-reel tape recorder and we recorded the interviews. They're now on a CD. They put it on a CD and they're available commercially, this particular set of interviews I did with Kubrick because I had them transferred onto a proper CD from the reel-to-reel.

But by the time I was doing Rabi and Bethe, I had a… we had real tape recorders, and it was easy to do. So I had the tape recorder and I interviewed Bethe. Some of the interviews were here and I went to Cornell once and for hours… I must have 15 or 20 tapes on which I interviewed Bethe. And then I wrote my profile. I did what I said I was going to do. The first part was about his early life in Germany and coming here and so on, and the second part was about the war and about making nuclear weapons and Oppenheimer and Teller and those things. And the third part, then, was about the general energy question. Now, as it happened, just at this time when I was finishing this, we had Three Mile Island.

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: Cornell University, Germany, Three Mile Island, Stanley Kubrick, Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, Robert J Oppenheimer

Duration: 1 minute, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: 15th June 2011

Date story went live: 28 October 2011