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Peierls' Parents Were Both Jewish
The statement in the current article that Rudolf Peierls' mother was a Catholic is untrue. Peierls' autobiography "Bird of Passage: Recollections of a Physicist" (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1985) makes it clear that both of his parents were assimilated Jews. There is nothing in the book to indicate in any way that Elisabeth Peierls was a Roman Catholic (much less a Gentile, as implied by the current wording). This erroneous claim appears to have originated with a February 1996 obituary that appeared on pages 74-75 of "Physics Today" magazine. Its author apparently misread material on page 5 of Peierls' autobiography, where Peierls has a paragraph beginning with "My mother..." followed by a paragraph discussing his nanny, which is in turn followed by a paragraph beginning with the phrase "She was a Roman Catholic..." This last statement, however, refers to the nanny, not to Peierls' mother. On page 3, he writes of his father: "He came from a family of Jewish merchants in Breslau." On page 5, he writes of his mother and father: "My mother, his cousin, née Elisabeth Weigert, was eleven years younger," i.e., his parents were, in fact, cousins. On page 141, he writes: "My mother's sister was married to a doctor in Breslau, where they remained; they perished during the war, probably in a concentration camp. Their two daughters did get away, one to England and the other to the United States." He goes on to say "my mother's brother, Hermann Weigert, was a musician, and he was particularly gifted as an accompanist and repetitor. He had travelled much and settled in New York in the thirties, where he worked at the Metropolitan Opera." JINFO.ORG has clear, documentary evidence that the opera conductor Hermann Weigert, the brother of Elisabeth Weigert, was a Jew. Peierls was indeed baptized as a Protestant, but he notes on page 6 of his autobiography that he left the Church as soon as he came of age. Peierls definitely considered himself to be a Jew. He submitted biographies to "Who's Who in World Jewry" in 1955 and 1965. Under the circumstances, I intend to modify the current wording to better reflect the facts. Jinfo 05:40, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
 From the article on Rudolf Peierls in the online edition of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, by the late Prof. Richard Dalitz, FRS of Oxford University: "Peierls, Sir Rudolf Ernst (1907-1995), theoretical physicist, was born on 5 June 1907 in Oberschöneweide, a suburb in the south-east of Berlin, the youngest of the three children (Alfred (b. 1899); Annie (b. 1901); and Rudolf) of Heinrich Peierls (1867-1945), an electrical engineer from Breslau (Wroclaw) and managing director of a cable factory of the Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG), and his first wife, Elisabeth (Elli; 1878-1921), daughter of Alfred Weigert (1848-1896) and his wife, Olga Hamburger, both of Breslau. Rudolf's parents were first cousins through the Weigert line. The Peierls families were assimilated Jews."  From the obituary for Peierls in the November 1995 issue of Physics World magazine, page 63, by Jack Paton of Oxford University: "Born into an assimilated Jewish family, Peierls originally wanted to become an engineer..."Jinfo 04:43, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
A paper I wrote
This is a paper I wrote in High School. It was created from a scan, as I do not have the original, so please fix any mistakes you see and hopefully we can incorporate part of it into the article:
The mathematics in quantum physics can be used to calculate the much-needed equations for a nuclear reaction. Quantum physics is the relationship between energy and the particles that make up all matter. Rudolph Peierls lived during a time where nuclear energy was in the beginning stages, and he decided being a war refugee to contribute his mathematical skills to nuclear energy in Britain. Rudolph Peierls assisted in making the most powerful weapon ever, one that forever changed the political world with just the threat of it, the nuclear bomb.
As a refugee, Rudolph Peierls experienced first hand the growing threat of fascist governments and knew he could use fission to end it, Rudolph Peierls had many contributions including some he is not entirely recognized for but he is recognized for his major contribution of helping the nuclear bomb develop and contributing much of its fundamental theory. The nuclear bomb Rudolph contributed is thought as being a bad effect of nuclear energy even though it helped to end World War II by forcing the Japanese hand therefore saving the lives from a bloody pacific battle. Nuclear energy in the form of power plant is considered a good effect though in cases like North Korea it is an excuse for them to get the materials they need for a nuclear bomb. Quantum physics will forever remember Rudolph Peierls even if his name gets lost in history.
Rudolph Peierls fled Germany before World War II and used his scientific know-how in a quest to use science to end World War II. The discovery of fission had resulted in a chance of an uncontrolled chain reaction resulting in a weapon of mass destruction. It is important to understand what happens in an uncontrolled chain reaction:However, the three neutrons produced in the fission reaction can bombard other nuclei in the sample to split more nuclei.
These reactions will each release more neutrons and so on. If there is not some other material present to absorb these neutrons, an uncontrolled chain reaction can result. A chain reaction, shown in Figure 14-10, is an ongoing series of fission reactions. This can cause billions of reactions to occur each second, resulting in the release of tremendous amounts of energy. (Mclaughlin 689-690)
One atomic reaction can result in billions of reactions in a chain reaction and thus creating an atomic bomb. World War II was unwanted in Europe especially after the devastation of World War I, but since the security of the world was threatened, Europe really did not have a choice and neither did the United States after Pearl Harbor. Totalitarian governments, Nazi, Italian, and Japanese governments during this time, backed by large efficient armies threatened the security and freedom of nations around the world (Sherrow 9). No one was safe as long as these fascist governments based on militarism were in government not even the great US. Some say Rudolph Peierls' motivation for discovery was that he was a spy while a more likely reason was he wanted to help the allies in stopping the government he was once under. Allegations of spying for the Soviet Union surfaced that say Rudolph Peierls was a spy named "perls" (Martin 1 of 2), but for most refugees, the politics of intolerance and repression drove these scientists from their homes to later help the allies (Sherrow 16). While some might have been scientists for the allies because they were spying for money, most scientists wanted to help the allies end World War II, which was likely why Peierls joined.
The setting, culture, and his motivation all made it a perfect time for Rudolph Peierls to join the search for an atomic bomb. Rudolph Peierls made many major and minor contributions as a generalist. Rudolph Peierls' work on the nuclear bomb was what he was most recognized for. The materials were shipped to build the first nuclear bomb at Los Alamos where Rudolph Peierls courageously assembled it by hand (Daniel 69), and along with Otto Frisch, he prepared a report identifying possible ways to design an atomic bomb and produce the kind of uranium they would need for the weapon (Sherrow 24). Along with working on the Manhattan Project, Rudolph Peierls took the brave job of having to assemble an untested nuclear bomb, but he is even better known for starting the British program up by showing how a nuclear bomb could be made. Rudolph Peierls realized the force to move a dislocation, did work with phonons, worked with photodisintegration, worked on the statistical mechanics of alloys, superconductivity, and liquid helium (Sam 74, 75). His wide range of subjects involved calculating vibrations with phonons, which he is not totally recognized for, changed in an object because of high-energy radiation, and the calculation of force on mixed metals. Rudolph Peierls' role, especially in Britain's nuclear program was clearly seen, but he had a role in many modem sciences. His major role was best described as, "Rudolph Peierls...a major player in the drama of the irruption of nuclear physics into world affairs..." (Sam 74). Rudolph Peierls was best described for his contributions to nuclear science though he was a generalist.
Rudolph Peierls contributions over a wide range of subjects played a major role in world events. The significance of the nuclear bomb is easy to see as it changed the political world forever and culture knowing a city could be destroyed in the blink of an eye or even faster. The significance then was clear as far as World War II. If the Germans or Japanese made a nuclear bomb, they would likely win the war (Sherrow 13). The nation with the nuclear bomb had the power to easily win the war. The effect on society was not just horror and happiness, because after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II the United States entered a cold war or nuclear arms race with Russia that threatened are species. The race threatened every city in the world and created a climate of fear, "An entire generation grew up believing that nuclear war was probable-and that there generation might be the last generation" (Cohen 110). The whole world at this time was in fear that the United States and Russia could destroy the world with nuclear weapons. After the iron curtain fell, the threat on society from America and Russia was greatly decreased, but new rogue states and terrorists with nuclear technology still threaten many people's existence as well as democratic governments as well.
During this new millennium, people from around the world hope the nuclear threat will diminish as more weapons are dismantled and international organizations work to resolve conflicts between nations without the use of force (Sherrow 105). The world wants to believe they are safer because of dismantling and diplomacy when the United States 'can never take back the fact that it unleashed the nuclear bomb. The significance of these nuclear physicists as well as nuclear science on the political and cultural world is clearly seen through past, present, and future. The mathematics Rudolph provided was crucial. He lived during a time of much war. He rose up and contributed to the nuclear bomb as well as many other sciences. The bomb will forever change the world. Rudolph Peierls helped to create a monster that once saved America from war but might destroy it in the future.
- Cohen, Daniel. The Manhattan Project. Brookfield: Twenty-First Century Books, 1999. 69
- Durr, Matin. New spy claims meet firm denial". Physics web. July 1, 1999. January 27, 2004.<http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/3014>.
- Edwards, Sam. "Rudolph E. Peierls". Physics Today. February 1996. January 27, 2004.
- McLaughlin, Charles W. and Marilyn Thompson. Physical Science. New York: Glencoe, 1999.689-690
- Sherrow, Victoria. The Making of the Atom Bomb. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2000. 13, 16, 24, 105
- I've removed a few typos and broken it up into paragraphs.--126.96.36.199