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b April 22 1904 New York City--d Feb 18 1967 Princeton NJ US US theoretical physicist and science administrator noted as director of the Los Alamos laboratory during dEvelopment of the atomic bomb 1943-45 and as director of the Institute for Advanced Study Princeton 1947-66 Accusations as to his loyalty and reliability as a security risk led to a government hearing that resulted in the loss of his security clearance and of his position as adviser to the highest echelons of the US government The case became a cause clbre in the world of science because of its implications concerning political and moral issues relating to the role of scientists in government Oppenheimer was the son of a German immigrant who had made his fortune by importing textiles in New York City During his undergraduate studies at Harvard University Oppenheimer excelled in Latin Greek physics and chemistry published poetry and studied Oriental philosophy After graduating in 1925 he sailed for England to do research at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge which under the leadership of Lord Rutherford had an international reputation for its pioneering studies on atomic structure At the Cavendish Oppenheimer had the opportunity to collaborate with the British scientific community in its efforts to advance the cause of atomic research Max Born invited him to Gttingen University where he met other prominent physicists such as Niels Bohr and Paul Dirac and where in 1927 he received his doctorate After short visits at science centres in Leiden and Zrich he returned to the United States to teach physics at the University of California at Berkeley and the California Institute of Technology In the 1920s the new quantum and relativity theories were engaging the attentions of science That mass was equivalent to energy and that matter could be both wavelike and corpuscular carried implications seen only dimly at that time Oppenheimers early research was devoted in particular to energy processes of subatomic
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