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What does Hans Bethe do with his money?


The effect of German inflation on Bethe's view of money
Jeremy Bernstein Scientist
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I respected Bethe a lot. I liked him very much. I… he had some curious traits. He was very marked by German inflation because he lived through the post-First World War German inflation where you couldn't… you didn't know the price of anything. And then the mark was worth nothing and things were… it bothered him all his life. So he was very, very disturbed that he'd have to relive that again. So he was very, very careful with money. He was always hedging. He had a very elaborate stamp collection because he thought stamps would be a good hedge against inflation. And he would… if he came to New York on whatever business and he had breakfast in the hotel, he would give me the bill, which I would pay. I never said anything. It was very odd. I have, still saved, some of the bills. Two scrambled eggs and coffee and toast, $3.86. And fine, I paid him $3.86. You know, I understood what his feelings were.

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: Germany, New York, Hans Bethe

Duration: 1 minute, 22 seconds

Date story recorded: 15th June 2011

Date story went live: 28 October 2011