Robert Oppenheimer, US physicist

Robert Oppenheimer, US physicist

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Credit: GARY BROWN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Julius Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967), US physicist, with an atomic bomb mushroom cloud. Oppenheimer studied in the USA and Germany with renowned physicists such as Dirac, Bohr and Heisenberg. In 1943, he became director of the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA, where the first atomic bomb was constructed. On its detonation on 16 July 1945, Oppenheimer reportedly recalled a Bhagavad Gita quote: 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds'. He opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb, losing his security rating in the anti-communist hysteria of 1954. In 1963, he was reinstated, receiving the Fermi Award.

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