Talk:J. Robert Oppenheimer/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

J. Robert Oppenheimer

Shouldn't the title of this article be "J. Robert Oppenheimer", considering that's his name? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ladder to Heaven (talkcontribs) 01:24, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

ANy response to this?--Natcase (talk) 05:52, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

You're probably right. Oppie claimed the initial stood for "nothing" and was just a J (like the S in Harry S Truman), but apparently his birth certificate says "Julius." So J. it is. Somebody should do the pagemove. SBHarris 06:05, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Done.--Natcase (talk) 07:06, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Offspring: Current Status and other info.

While the children are mentioned -- I believe Peter is still alive -- very little else is said about them.

I believe that in this article and elsewhere, the status of wives and offspring is of interest if not importance. I would like to know what the general policy on this issue is.--Jrm2007 (talk) 02:42, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

The policy is that we don't do bio info on people whose main claim to notablity is relationships to the notable (royalty being the nearest to exception). There's more info about Toni Oppenheimer in the article because she's not living, but Peter is a living person subject to BLP policy, who obviously values his privacy (there is relatively little about him even in the most recent Oppenheimer bio). This should be respected. SBHarris 22:47, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Oppenheimer believed that nuclear technology could have existed in ancient India

Really? That's hard to swallow. Is there a source?

No, it's bullshit. -- (talk) 20:22, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Security clearance

In this section it says:

"During his hearing, Oppenheimer testified willingly on the left-wing behavior of many of his scientific colleagues. Cornell University historian Richard Polenberg has speculated that if Oppenheimer's clearance had not been stripped (it would have expired in a matter of days anyhow, as he knew while testifying), he would have been remembered as someone who had "named names" to save his own reputation."

It's not clear what this is based on. I've just been through Priscilla McMillan's detailed account of the hearings and find nothing related to this at all. Is the source Polenberg? If so, a quotation and page reference would clear the matter up. I suspect the writer here is confusing the sorts of testimony given at HUAC hearings with the more "trial-like" atmosphere of the security hearings. My impression from McMillan is that Oppenheimer was asked only to talk about himself, and that, apart from mentioning Chevalier and Eltenton, he didn't "name names" because he wasn't asked to. As McMillan says, the Chevalier incident was key for the hearings because what it seemed to show – to the prosecution at any rate – was that Oppenheimer had once placed loyalty to his friends ahead of loyalty to his country (P205).

I think this section could benefit from using more of McMillan's information, which shows that the hearings were, essentially, an ambush, with various sort of unfounded allegations and innuendo being allowed into the record unchallenged by Gray, who was supposed to be chairing the proceedings, and other types of dirty tricks – see for example P203-04, tricking David Lilienthal into giving less than optimal testimony, The prosecution even bugged the rooms used by the defense to meet and prepare its case (P204).

Theonemacduff (talk) 16:55, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Carson Kreitzer's "The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer,"

TomyDuby (talk) 04:01, 12 October 2008 (UTC)


What about making mention of his family (wife, perhaps Tatlock [but that's discussable], son, daughter, brother, etc.) in the "infobox" (excuse me, unfortunately, I'm unfamilar with how to make this change). panth0r (talk) 05:31, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

Oppenheimer tried to poison one of his professors

Perhaps an interesting item to add to this article, that Oppenheimer tried to poison one of his professors, future Nobel Prize laureate Patrick Blackett, while at Cambridge University. Reference: , but originally from Prometheus. Gary King (talk) 02:47, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

David Cassidy

I don't think the person with this name that wrote a bio on Oppenheimer is the same guy from the Partridge Family, which is how it is currently linked. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:11, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Please update

Oppenheimer was one of the most brilliant theoreticians of the 20th century. This article seems to labor over his involvement with the Manhattan Project and subsequent security issues and controversy. If you know more about the numerous contributions he has made to general relativity, black holes, and quantum mechanics (I'm not an expert), please edit the article to give it more balance and to enhance the scientific legacy of the man. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Revdrlane (talkcontribs) 02:37, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Someone defaced your Oppie article

In the Europe section, someone defaced the article, please change Lpi daman (talk) 17:19, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Nice article!

At a glance, this article looks excellent, thorough, well-documented, useful, and informative. Thank you very much to the main person responsible and to the team of contributing editors. Softlavender (talk) 04:13, 11 February 2009 (UTC)


This is a very good article, but under Childhood and Education it says:

"At Harvard he majored in bioterrorism."

OK, I'm from the UK, and I don't have a good knowledge of the US education system, but I think it should say:

"At Harvard he majored in Chemistry."

Bioterrorism had not been coined as a term in 1925. (talk) 13:47, 9 March 2009 (UTC)SMJerome 9-March-09

Radical politics

A better title is called for, at the very least. The section is furthermore, arguably an unbalanced amount of detail that heaps high a Erich Von Daniken-esque pile of circumstantial evidence for Op being involved in radical politics. Anarchangel (talk) 05:13, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

I agree. The FBI file bits should be removed—they are not reliable and are of a very circumstantial, poorly-sourced nature (KGB file says that some CP member claimed Oppenheimer as a member.... there are a lot of factual jumps there, a lot of reasons for every part of that to be suspect). The other info is relatively well-sourced and well-known (Oppenheimer's early involvement in left-wing politics). -- (talk) 14:41, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Security hearings

The shorter the phrase, the longer the explanation of the context needs to be. "was an idiot" is just too short for the article to retain both context and summary style. Oppenheimer uttered the phrase while being questioned about Chevalier; he called himself an 'idiot' to have indulged in replication of the cloak-and-dagger secrecy he had seen all around him when originally keeping Chevalier's name secret and substituting the alias Eltenton. Same goes for the other quote, and the sentences that surround it are muddy and unfocused; the only thing clear about them is the uncited, writhing assertion that the quotes 'convinced' an unnamed 'some'. Anarchangel (talk) 05:13, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

The "idiot" quote is clearly about Oppenheimer lying to agents, something he admits to doing. I think that's all that really matters here—it's Oppenheimer admitting to contradictory, problematic behavior, which is eventually the question about his "judgment" that comes through in the final ruling. -- (talk) 14:39, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Reverse magnetism

Is there any information on whether Julian Schwinger refused to work at Los Alamos or whether Richard Feynman refused to accept a position at the Institute for Advanced Study because they were personally repelled by JRO? Lestrade (talk) 12:24, 10 September 2009 (UTC)Lestrade

The last seems unlikely, as there's at least one photo of a Los Alamos seminar (actually it's in this Wiki) where Feynman is sitting next to JRO. Not what you'd expect if Feynman didn't like him. Feynman states that he was specifically repelled by the IAS (Institute for Advanced Salaries) because he would NOT have to teach, and he found students stimulating to creativity. Also, BTW Feynman during his life turned down much more lucritive teaching jobs at other universities, simply because he liked California and the warm. Again, nothing to do with Oppie. About Schwinger, I don't know. SBHarris 18:54, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
In fact, Oppenheimer wrote a glowing letter of recommendation for Feynman to the physics department at Berkeley, identifying him as “a second Dirac, only this time human”. Feynman did not go to Berkeley, so he may have felt snubbed, but the teaching reasons seem more likely. Qubiter (talk) 19:19, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
Incidentally Feynman went to Cornell for a number of years before he went to California. He was lured by Bethe. He would have had a tough time at IAS with Oppenheimer, anyway (Dyson certainly did). Oppenheimer did not like Feynman diagrams and criticized them harshly. See Kaiser, Drawing theories apart, p. 95. -- (talk) 02:29, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Oppenheimer's personality had an enormous effect on his life. Yet, there is no discussion of it in the article. It may be the most important factor in his life, next to his intelligence. Several top scientists mysteriously refused to work at Los Alamos. Important scientists describe with disgust his behaviour at conferences, meetings, and in the classroom. Many others, though, were drawn to Oppenheimer. Some books suggest that he brought about his own downfall simply by the way that he treated people. His personality is very complicated but cannot be ignored when discussing the way that events occurred in his life. Of course, this topic is notoriously difficult and can lead to much unverifiable speculation.Lestrade (talk) 00:00, 17 December 2009 (UTC)Lestrade

Haakon Chevelier

I met Haakon at my Garnamoher;s house at 1520 willardd st. in San Francisco; she had a signed first edition of a book he wrote about Robert Oppenheimer called "The Man Who Would be God"; I believe that when I met Haakon my Grandmother Ruth Witt-Diamant ( Sophia Ruth Witt-Diamant was her full name.( who knew him and many others including Alan Watts and James Broughton who were all friends ) said that Robert had not been intent in ousting Haakon; but named him to save himself and his own career; but really the entire tragedy had to do with the efforts to reach him through every person they could who was close to him; as they knew his sympathies lay outside the political spectrum in which he worked. The KGB who really tried everything they could to get the bomb; which they did anyway.

I met Haakon after 1980 when I came back from London; he must have seen Ruth shortly before he died. Unicorn144 (talk) 22:32, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

I think you should include a review of this book; if not; then I could add a review to Haakon Chevelier's wikipage. Unicorn144 (talk) 22:22, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

The first paragraph of this section contains atrocious spelling and grammar. Is English your fourth language or is your keyboard incompatible with your hands? You seem to have interesting information to communicate, but it is difficult to understand in its present condition.Lestrade (talk) 21:56, 6 November 2009 (UTC)Lestrade

Visit to ex-girlfriend

The article currently says: "He was also followed by Army security agents during an unannounced trip to California in 1943 to meet his former girlfriend, Jean Tatlock, where he spent the night in her apartment.[42]"

I don't think an encyclopedia really needs to contain information on who may or may not have gotten some nookie from an ex-girlfriend on some random night in 1943. I totally understand why the Army tailed him, and it might be relevant to report the trip and that he was tailed, but the "where he spent the night in her apartment" part strikes me as crass and pointless. (talk) 21:17, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Tatlock is mentioned many times in the article; it's not just a random fact. It was considered by many to be relevant to his security hearings that even while he was director of Los Alamos he was having secret flings with his former lefty/Communist friends. -- (talk) 02:20, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
If it's relevant for your average Wikipedia reader (a.k.a *****) then put it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:50, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
This should be here, as it was one of the strikes against him at his 1954 hearing, and also is mentioned in the dramatizations of his life, such as the BBC series. Figureofnine (talk) 00:39, 16 May 2010 (UTC)

Nationality "unknown"?

Nationality "unknown"? What does this mean? Is this vandalism? Please fix. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:09, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Security hearings separate article

Would anyone object if I created a separate article on the hearings? They go down in history as a central event of the Cold War era, have been separately dramatized, and are definitely notable in their own right. Figureofnine (talk) 15:33, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

Go for it. Call it Oppenheimer security hearing or something (I've started it for you, using material from this article what you can expand). It can be a main article for the hearings section of THIS article. I hope that if you're tackling this, you at least have access to the definitive book on the subject: Stern and Green's THE OPPENHEIMER CASE: security on trial.SBHarris 19:58, 13 June 2010 (UTC)
Nice! You've done a bangup job. Yes, I have that book and also the published hearing transcript itself. Both books are in storage, but I'll get them out over the next couple of weeks and give it a go. Figureofnine (talk) 21:58, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

I've started work on the separate article, and also have come back to fix the section on the hearing in this one, as it contains some serious inaccuracies (i.e., "Eisenhower asked for Oppenheimer's resignation"!) There is, surprisingly, no mention of the Borden letter that touched off the hearing. On closer reading, I find that the section on the hearing here is schizophrenic. It swings between being hostile to JRO and overtly sympathetic, with the latter apparent in a tortured discussion of the Chevalier incident. I'll substitute a neutral and factual account of that. Figureofnine (talk) 15:40, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

The "schizophrenia" comes out of trying to please two factions who think JRO was a patriot vs. people who think he was a traitor in league with the Sovients. The latter are people who believe Crouch, even though he's a most unbelievable witness who was caught in total error, or lie, more than once. As I read JRO, he was merely a very complicated man, who was willing to entertain many viewpoints, and reserved the right to pick and choose amoung them (although he certainly was a patriot). That's what made him a great director of the Manhattan project, and it adequately explains his complicated and changing positions on the H-bomb as new data came in. Alas, he was a subtle man, stuck in a black-and-white time. Somebody said about Lewis Strauss that he was the sort of man who, if you disagreed with him, would patiently explain to you how you were wrong. And if you continued to disagree, would then assume that either you were stupid, or (if that was impossible) that you were a traitor. JRO was not only not stupid, but he made Strauss look like a fool in public for opposing the sale of iron radioisotopes to the USSR. And of course, Strauss not only never forgave him for it, but was quite willing to believe he was a traitor. Alas, JRO was perfectly correct in his view of radio-iron to the USSR. It had nothing more (or less) to do with building a bomb than any other industrial help. All of which we were at that time providing, as a matter of national policy. But Straus was stuck on the idea that anything with "isotope" in it, must be of some special help to nuclear programs. SBHarris 20:26, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
I think that's a very astute analysis. I'm reluctant to use Crouch at all. If you read or skim the voluminous hearing transcript, you can see that every corpuscle of the man was investigated and his worst enemies determined that he was not a Communist or a spy. And yet we reprint the same canards again. Figureofnine (talk) 21:09, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
No, I do not think that those are the 2 factions at all. There are those who think that JRO was a martyr to McCarthyism who was unjustly accused, and there are those who think that the AEC's 1954 decision was accurate and appropriate. I have no opinion about Crouch. I do think that if the article is going to say or imply that the 1954 decision was unjust, then it also should represent the contrary view. As it is, I think that the article is unbalanced. Roger (talk) 01:36, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
We're waiting for your evidence. If JRO was passing secrets to the USSR we should know it by now, even as we know the Rosenbergs were indeed guilty. And JRO had every opportunity to use what was left of his life to work for any foreign power. Instead, he traveled and kept his mouth shut about nuclear secrets. If the US gov really retained its idea that AEC was accurate and appropriate to think JRO a security risk, then why in the world would the JFK administration vote him the Fermi award the the LBJ administration present it to him? That's not what you do to people you think might be spies. Conversely, you may ask why the government didn't give JRO his clearance back, after they realized what a stupid mistake they'd made. And the answer is obvious. The US government rarely admits mistakes. Often they pay damages without ever admitting mistakes (think of dead NASA astronauts, the 2003 Iraq war, Operation Sea-Spray with Serratia marcescens), etc. That's what they did with JRO. Say, did I miss the apology for the bombing of Laos? I've waited a long time for it. SBHarris 02:13, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
You obviously have some sort of anti-USA agenda. This is not the place to debate the bombing of Laos or any of those ideas. Roger (talk) 02:30, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
I could as well accuse you of the opposite and white-washing. Do you think whitewashing everything the government ever does, is a "pro-US" agenda? How is it patriotic to never discuss our government's mistakes? Hmmm? But fine, let us discuss JRO and the Gray Board. Do you think it's okay for US government to hold a security "hearing" about somebody, then listen in, by electronic bug, as the man consults with his first legal counsel, as the Feds did to JRO (See the Oppenheimer Case, page 231)? Since you're intimately familiar with the details of this case, perhaps you could give us your expert opinion. Then, I'd like your legal and ethical opinion. And what about the practice of withholding documents from the defendant and his attorney on the grounds that they are "classified", only to effectively declassify them at the moment of cross-examination, by using them in a proceeding which to be immediately published publicly? How does that tickle your "fairness" bone? There were a number of complex points on which JRO was made to look self-contradictory and perhaps untruthful (one of the character charges made against him), which on closer examination were merely instances of the imperfect memory of a man confronted with recordings and records he hadn't seen for 5 years (in the case of the H-bomb discussions) and over a decade in the case of the Chevalier incident. The board was supposed to be judging JRO character, but they were looking at allegations of his bad judgement that he could not see, and had no chance to defend. You like that? How would you like it to happen to YOU? That's how I decide moral questions. What about you? SBHarris 04:45, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
I am not here to make moral judgments. I just want the article to be accurate. Roger (talk) 08:04, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
In what way is it inaccurate or unbalanced? If so, it needs to be fixed. As for factions, personally I have to admit that I admire the man, but I view him as complex and flawed, and as having made errors. Given the intense scrutiny of him during his lifetime, and the penetration of the CPUSA by the FBI, not to mention the Venona decrypts, I think the chances of him being either a party member or spy are remote. Figureofnine (talk) 14:34, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
What is the "considerable controversy regarding the guilt or innocence of Oppenheimer"? He was not accused of a crime. He was suspected of being a CP member, but that was not a crime. There isn't any controversy about the AEC fact-finding, AFAIK. The controversy was over whether his background and behavior should disqualify him from classified H-bomb policy work. Roger (talk) 17:29, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
I've changed that. Just to be clear, you're referring to the separate article, not this one. Figureofnine (talk) 17:55, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

Yeah, let's talk about stuff being inaccurate. What's in the article about Crouch is a hunk of bull. Crouch's testimony, dramatically taken from executive sessions of a congressional committee in "1953" and supposedly not discovered (eureka!) until a half century later, was actually a subject of much publicity in 1950 (see [1] and he was discredited. See American Prometheus, p. 440-441, [2] Oppenheimer was somewhere else at the time of the supposed closed Communist party hearing. I've fixed to reflect the truth. Figureofnine (talk) 17:04, 3 July 2010 (UTC)

" Father of the Atomic Bomb "

More than any other man of his time, Enrico Fermi could properly be named "the father of the atomic bomb." It was his epoch-making experiments at the University of Rome in 1934 that led directly to the discovery of uranium fission, the basic principle underlying the atomic bomb as well as the atomic power plant. And eight years later, on Dec. 2, 1942, he was the leader of that famous team of scientists who lighted the first atomic fire on earth, on that gloomy squash court underneath the west stands of the University of Chicago's abandoned football stadium. A team of scientists led by Enrico Fermi created man's first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. All books will show physics "Enrico Fermi, father of the atomic bomb" --Davide41 (talk) 07:29, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

This is a false news. Enrico Fermi was the Father of the Atomic Bomb.


The Story of the First Pile

Enrico Fermi Dead at 53; Architect of Atomic Bomb

Cambridge Encyclopedia

and Physics books--Davide41 (talk) 20:55, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

Fermi might have a claim to be called the "father of the nuclear reactor" inasmuch as he was in charge of the project where the first one was built. However, the only principle he discovered to make it possible was neutron moderation, which (ironically) is NOT necessary for the atom bomb. Fermi didn't discover the neutron, fission, or have the idea that a fission chain-reaction was possible. Or that graphite could be used to make a reactor. Later, the making of a bomb, a fast-neutron very fast thing, was a completely different enterprise. Fermi wasn't the guy who understood this had to be done with pure U-235 or Pu-239, or how much. Or how to get THEM. Nor did he come up with the designs which made these things possible. All this was done by different people. No single person gets credit, or even partial credit. But as with the Nobel prize, Oppenheimer was the man in charge of the team that put it all together. SBHarris 03:16, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Fermi was arguably one of the most important people in the development of the bomb itself, and played roles at every level—including basic theory, practical industrial reactor designs, and even bomb design itself (he was on the initiator committee, for example, among other things). And one could argue that Oppenheimer was just the director of Los Alamos, which while important, was only one component of the overall Manhattan Project. But hey, this is all quite silly. We all know what is meant by the "father of the atomic bomb," for Wikipedia's purpose — it's 99.999% of the time in reference to Oppenheimer, and the article should reflect that. --Mr.98 (talk) 00:22, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

99,999% is false. At least, 20 physics books. Some source

01. Lichello, Robert, Enrico Fermi, father of the atomic bomb, Outstanding personalities; no. 11, Charlotteville : SamHar Press, 1971 (Juvenile audience).

02. Gottfried, Ted, Enrico Fermi, pioneer of the atomic age, New York : Facts on File, 1992, (Juvenile audience).

03. Sam Epstein and Beryl Williams Epstein, Enrico Fermi, Father of Atomic Power. Champaign: Garrard, 1970.

04. Enrico Fermi, Gregory Breit, and Isidor Isaac Rabi, Nuclear Physics. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1941.

05. Enrico Fermi, Physicist, (August 1, 1995), University Of Chicago Press (among others) --Davide41 (talk) 17:28, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

Michael H. Hart ( historical and astrophysical ) in his list of the most influential figures in history writes : Fermi is remembered as the "father of the atomic bomb." Fermi then went to the University of Chicago and began studies that led to the construction of the first nuclear pile. --Davide41 (talk) 07:09, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

I don't objection to reinsertion of the "father of atomic bomb" reference to JRO in this article if it can be sourced. It wasn't, so the removal wasn't really objectionable. I do agree that JRO is more properly referred to as the "father" of the bomb, but that statement needs to be sourced. Figureofnine (talk) 14:37, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
This is kind of silly. Google "Father of the atomic bomb." Put it into Google Books. Oppenheimer is who they are talking about, 99% of the time. OK, one can argue endlessly over whether the "father" should be this person or that person, depending on whatever method you want to assign parentage. (Szilard came up with the chain reaction—he's the father! Hahn and Meitner discovered fission—they're the parents! The whole bomb would never have been made without Groves—what's he get to be?) But the overall point for Wikipedia is that Oppenheimer is considered the "father of the atomic bomb" by every historian and cultural source out there. It's a silly point to argue to contrary because it's just not true that Fermi is called the "father of the atomic bomb" in popular parlance. The reasons Oppenheimer got to be known as the "father" are complicated — indeed, some scientist colleagues of his really resented him being called that. But that's not really for Wikipedia to arbitrate. I've made the statement clear that he is "referred to" as this, which is indisputably true. And I even added a single, obvious citation. But it's almost pointless—every single one of the historical sources used as the basis of this article calls him the "father of the atomic bomb". --Mr.98 (talk) 00:19, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

Enrico Fermi initiated the atomic age. Enrico Fermi constructed the world's first nuclear reactor and developed the first atomic pile and produced the first nuclear chain reaction. The team, headed by Fermi, achieved the first controlled release of nuclear energy. Enrico Fermi is the father of atom bomb. --Davide41 (talk) 17:58, 4 August 2010 (UTC)


1. Enrico Fermi (in 1934) bombarded uranium with slow neutrons.

2. Led to the atomic pile and the first controlled nuclear chain reaction (1942).

3. This success brought the Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer to take charge of the development of the atomic bomb.

Enrico Fermi is Architect of Atomic Bomb. --Davide41 (talk) 17:12, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

If Fermi and JRO were alive today they'd be laughing. "Father of atomic bomb" is hyperbole. We can say in both articles that Fermi and/or Oppenheimer are often referred to as the "father of the atomic bomb," and we would be correct. Figureofnine (talk) 19:22, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Clearly, a bomb needs both a father and a mother. I'd say Fermi provided the matrix from which Oppenheimer developed the bomb. So I'd describe Fermi as the mother of the atomic bomb. :-) Yworo (talk) 22:51, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
On second thought, given all that has happened over the last six decades, I bet if they were alive today Fermi and JRO would both want to be distant cousins, at most. Figureofnine (talk) 17:13, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

As for the "father of the atomic bomb", I have to admit I find the debate a little silly. Sure, one can argue the technicalities of whether Fermi should be really called the father or not. Maybe he should be. Maybe even Einstein could sport the moniker since the workings of an atomic bomb flow directly from his equation. But Wikipedia does not work that way. The fact is that Oppenheimer is most commonly known as the father. Wikipedia reflects common opinion voiced by scholars and diverse sources. If one wishes to name Fermi as the father, he or she needs to find authoritative references, irrespective of the objective merit of the argument.---Ashujo 13:06, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

A shame. I think that if anybody deserves to called the father of the fission bomb it would be Szilard, even over Fermi. Szilard had the idea for a nuclear chain reaction soon after the neutron was discovered, and with Fermi, he proved it was possible in uranium, after fission had been discovered. That made the reactor and the bomb a mere matter of engineering. He wrote the letter to be signed by Einstein that got the Manhattan project going. And finally it was Szilard who got graphite to work as a moderator which allowed self-sustaining nuclear reactors that could be used to make plutonium-- something the Germans were never able to do, because they didn't know what Szilard knew about boron-10 contamination of most natural carbon. SBHarris 08:18, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

Sources: "laughingly", "quip", "he was being taped", "he did not know"

The following excerpt needs to be sourced:

The sources given are:


The first of these now redirects to

which states:

The second states:

Neither source substantiates the statement that Oppenheimer answered "laughingly," nor that the question was a "quip," not that "he was being taped," not that "he didn't know," etc.

Until this excerpt can be sourced, it should be reworded in a more NPV to remove the POV. Suggested wording:


Source: United States Atomic Energy Commission (1954). In the Matter of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer: 159. United States Government Printing Office. Washington, DC. URL:

Source: United States Atomic Energy Commission (1954). In the Matter of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer: 204. United States Government Printing Office. Washington, DC. URL:

Source: United States Atomic Energy Commission (1954). In the Matter of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer: 9. United States Government Printing Office. Washington, DC. URL:

Source: United States Atomic Energy Commission (1954). In the Matter of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer: 204. United States Government Printing Office. Washington, DC. URL:

You've raised some good points about the Lansdale interview. However, I am not sure that the "nearly every communist front" quote is from his security questionnaire. I'll see what Stern and, failing that, what the transcript says. Figureofnine (talk) 23:54, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
Stern doesn't say whether Oppenheimer stated this on his PSQ, but he does mention on page 15 that Oppenheimer stated it to Groves.
There are some other sources, however:
Source: "J. Robert Oppenheimer, (1904–1967)". Race for the Superbomb. The American Experience. Public Broadcasting Service.
Source: Teukolsky, Rachel (Spring 2001). "Regarding Scientist X." Berkeley Science Review 1: 17.
Source: Wyden, Peter (1984). Day One: Before Hiroshima and After: 49. Simon and Schuster. New York. ISBN 0671461427. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:30, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
The depth of your research is commendable. Why don't you make appropriate changes to the article? Figureofnine (talk) 14:13, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
Done. Thank you. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:50, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
On the contrary, you're the one to be thanked. You seem very well informed on this subject. I'd like to get your thoughts on Oppenheimer security hearing. Also there's a discussion related to JRO at Enrico Fermi, related to who is the real father of the a-bomb. Your contributions to these would be very much welcome. Figureofnine (talk) 17:24, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

I think it's worth mentioning in the article that Oppenheimer's communist sympathies considerably declined after he received news of Stalin's purges from Placzek and Weiskopf who had just returned from the Soviet Union (around 1939). I also think it's worth noting that he essentially divorced himself from formal leftist commitments just a few days before Pearl Harbor upon Lawrence's urging (I will have to refresh my memory on these details though).

As for the "father of the atomic bomb", I have to admit I find the debate a little silly. Sure, one can argue the technicalities of whether Fermi should be really called the father or not. Maybe he should be. Maybe even Einstein could sport the moniker since the workings of an atomic bomb flow directly from his equation. But Wikipedia does not work that way. The fact is that Oppenheimer is most commonly known as the father. Wikipedia reflects common opinion voiced by scholars and diverse sources. If one wishes to name Fermi as the father, he or she needs to find authoritative references, irrespective of the objective merit of the argument.---Ashujo 13:06, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

I Am Become Death

should redirect to this page. It previously went to a Heroes episode (seriously?). That article is now I Am Become Death (episode). Would someone with editing power add a link from this page? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Aultsimb (talkcontribs) 07:25, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

GA Review

This review is transcluded from Talk:J. Robert Oppenheimer/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer:focus 05:51, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

I suppose I'll take on this review. It looks like a very nice article, but it's long, so please understand if I take a bit of time to get all my comments up. —focus 05:51, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

  • I apologize — I've read through this article and it's very nice, but real-life duties will prevent me from being too active on WP for a few weeks. I'm going to list this as 2nd opinion so another editor can step in. Sorry again. —focus 05:00, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment This article is incredibly long (Its text only proze size is 57kB, which is one of the longest I've seen to date). Having examined the first few sections, I think it is longer than it needs to be. There are quite a few sentences that can easily be left-out. For example, why is Oppenheimer's childhood address relevant? (While at same time forgetting to mention in the main text in what city he was born. From the same first section Childhood and education, I think the following sentences/phrases could be left out without a problem:
    "His lecturers included James B. Conant."
    "at least three original paintings by"
    "with Herbert W. Smith, a former English teacher,"
    • The article is still quite small. The bit about Conant explains the latter's interest in Oppenheimer further down; the paintings illustrates the family's wealth. The address is a signifier of social status. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
      • 57kB of readable proze is not small (see User:Dr pda/Featured article statistics for some perspective]]. About the bit about Conant, I think it is better to just mention later that he was a former lecturer of Oppenheimer. Right now it just sticks out with reader wondering why this bit of information is relevant.TimothyRias (talk) 08:40, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Some more comments: 1) note 1 should be referenced. 2) The article frequently references a "Cassidy 2005", the bibliography only contains a "Cassidy 2004" presumably these are the same book?TimothyRias (talk) 10:42, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
    • The bibliography had a typo. It should have been 2005.
      • Note that references 115 and 116 (currently) are referring to a "Cassidy 2004". That is probably a typo as well.TimothyRias (talk) 08:40, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
        • Corrected these. Hawkeye7 (talk) 11:00, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    "He was admitted to Phi Beta Kappa." (Saying this is meaningless unless you explain what Phi Beta Kappa is.)
With some aggressive editing I think the length of this article can be greatly reduced while increasing its readability. As it stands I don't think the article should pass GA criteria 3b.TimothyRias (talk) 15:11, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  • It's still small. Hawkeye7 (talk) 10:43, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Take over review

I will take over the review from where User:Focus left off. Racepacket (talk) 16:31, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

GA review (see here for criteria)

Please fix these disamb links:Harper, James Conant, John Wheeler, National Research Council, Ordnance, Thin Man, and War Department.

  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS for lead, layout, word choice, fiction, and lists):
    I would move the following sentence from the lead to the Trinity section: "In reference to the Trinity test in New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was detonated, Oppenheimer famously recalled the Bhagavad Gita: "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one." and "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." "
    • It's already in the Trinity section. Do you want it removed from the lead? Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    This is up to you. I personally would not have it in the lead section. Racepacket (talk) 15:56, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    "eleventh floor of 155 Riverside Drive, near West 88th Street." - explain that this is in New York City.
    "admitted to graduate standing in physics" - please rephrase because the meaning is unclear.
    • The meaning is not unclear; the term is just not well known. I hope a brief explanation will do the trick. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    The change works. I just want all readers to understand.
    "periods of intellectual discomfort and concentration" - please rephrase, perhaps "periods of intense thought and concentration" or just "concentration"
    "enough to reach one trimester" -> "enough to teach one trimester" ?
    This does not flow: " and professed to experiencing periods of depression. "I need physics more than friends", he once informed his brother.[34]" You should have a cite for "periods of depression." Whether one is depressed as nothing to do with valuing physics over friendship.
    • Re-worded. Ref added. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    " predicted the existence of what we today call black holes"-> " predicted the existence of black holes"
    • That term had not yet been coined. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    How about predict the existence of what have been later named "black holes"?
    Run on sentence, "He claimed that he did not read newspapers or listen to the radio, and only learned of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 some time after it occurred, and never cast a vote until the 1936 election."
    • Split sentence. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    add comma between "In 1934" and "Oppenheimer"
    "Melba Phillips and Bob Server" -> "Melba Phillips and Bob Serber" ???
    • Corrected typo. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    "Like many young intellectuals in the 1930s he" - do you mean Oppenheimer or Tatlock? Add comma after 1930s.
    Should the section heading be "Political views" or "Private life"?
    • The private is political. :) Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    Please be consistent in referring to Oppenheimer by his last name rather than by "Robert"
    • It is consistent, except in a couple of places where it might cause confusion with his brother Frank. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    Incomplete sentence, "During his marriage, Oppenheimer continued his involvement with Jean Tatlock, and evidently their affair." If you are stating that a married man had an affair, you should footnote the sentence.
    • Re-worded to make it more explicit. And added another reference. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    I don't think that Philip Morrison should be flatly listed as a Communist Party member. He joined a youth group and a campus club, but was not an active adult member. In general, I don't see what the article gains by trying to list which of Oppenheimer's students were communists. The source at p. 147 does in fact flatly list the four graduate students as being Communist Party members and indicates that "some" were active in a union that was organizing employees at the Radiation Lab, but this was much more complicated than the source describes.
    • He has a whole article. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    I have no problem with the fair treatment in the Philip Morrison article. But I think that the treatment here lacks a similar degree of fairness. Rather than speaking with the voice of Wikipedia in the "Private and Political Life" section, could you instead attribute this list to Oppenheimer's accusers in the "Security Board" section? We don't know if Oppenheimer encouraged his graduate students to become party members or if his students affected his political views. We do know that years later people tried to use his graduate students to discredit him. I have no reason to doubt the patriotism of any of them, so let's focus on the important point -- the accusation was used againt Oppenheimer years later.
    Expand "This led to Cecil Frank Powell's breakthrough and subsequent Nobel Prize." Do you mean discovering the pi-meson?
    • Yes. Added words to this effect. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    "Government maintains a Community Center in the area, which can be rented." ->"Government maintains a Community Center in the area."
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
    Fn 38 is a dead link.
    Now footnote 39, and still dead
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
    Please see comments above by User:TimothyRias about unnecessary detail. I disagree with him that Phi Beta Kappa needs to be explained if it is wikilinked.
    I would delete "Many great scientists never won Nobel Prizes, and his lack of a Prize would not be odd had not so many of his associates won them."
    • Done. Hope this corrects the problem below. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
    Article is a bit defensive about Oppenheimer not getting the Nobel Prize.
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
    How do we know that File:JROppenheimer-LosAlamos.jpg, File:Los Alamos colloquium.jpg, File:Trinity Ground Zero.jpg, File:Einstein_oppenheimer.jpg, File:Robert Oppenheimer 1946.jpg, and Oppenheimer_Los_Alamos_portrait.jpg are government works? Photos could have been taken by a contractor. Need to identify who the photographer was or to get permission from the National Lab and file it with OTRS.
    • The DOE and DOD say they are. That's good enough for me. Hawkeye7 (talk) 10:58, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    Do you have any citation to where DOE and DOD say that these photos were taken by government employees. As you correctly note, the Los Alamos employees worked for the University of California as a government contractor. If you are relying on a statement that the U of C gives its permission, then you should remove the "government works" template. Racepacket (talk) 19:13, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    With File:Leiden Kamerlingh-Onnes Lab.jpg, we don't know the photographer, so we don't know his date of death or the expiration date of the copyright.
  7. Overall:

I am placing this article on hold for seven days. Racepacket (talk) 18:59, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

  • Good progress. Still need to resolve list of four graduate students; dead links; and provinance of photos. Thanks, Racepacket (talk) 15:56, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    1. You fixed the dead link. Thank you! The link checker reports no more.
    2. What do you propose should be done about the four graduate students? The way it stands, the reader can click on the links and read about the effects of the 1950s witch hunts on scientists. The four are a good sample; one's university stood by him; another had to leave the country; a third had to leave his profession.
    3. The images all have to be tagged and non-free images have to have fair use rationales. They all do.

Hawkeye7 (talk) 20:59, 17 January 2011 (UTC) Congratulations. I have passed the article. Please reflect further on the graudate students and the provinance of the photos. Thanks, Racepacket (talk) 22:41, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Quote by Rabi

I think that the quote attributed to I. I. Rabi, discussing his interest in the Hindu religion is poorly sourced. The source is an article on the americanheritage, which only gives the quote, withhout any source. This doesn't seem adequate. Kkrystian (talk) 22:42, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

  • It is from Rabi, Oppenheimer, p. 7. Hawkeye7 (talk) 20:33, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

Video clips

In the external links, the atomic archive video clip of a (gaunt, probably in the 1960s) Oppenheimer talking about his recollection of the Trinity test is very moving. I found another clip here at the British Pathe News archive, but unfortunately the sound is rather distorted. I'm leaving the link here in case anyone thinks it is worth adding to the article. Carcharoth (talk) 17:36, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Draft in userspace

Noting here that I stumbled across a draft in userspace here. That user last edited in May 2010, but I wanted to note it here as it is possible that some people looking for this article might end up there, which wouldn't be great. As this article is being worked on actively, I would suggest that the userspace draft could be blanked and a note left on the user's talk page (or alternatively, leave a note, wait a week, then blank and leave a note). The note would explain that since the article has moved on a lot since the draft was made in userspace, any new work should start over here, rather than over there. Carcharoth (talk) 19:30, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Murrow interview

Was reading about the interview Ed Murrow did with Oppenheimer, and am leaving links here in case it is of interest. Here and here, and a photo here. Carcharoth (talk) 01:01, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Photo gallery

Also found a photo gallery here at a website called 'The Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Association, Inc.' Several there I hadn't seen before, including him receiving the Fermi Award and receiving an honorary doctorate at Princeton. Would need more checking to see if any of these are available under a free license though, or are public domain. Carcharoth (talk) 01:01, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Destroyer of worlds

"In reference to" sounds odd. He famously recalled it during the test, when he saw the explosion. Whether we can "prove" this is irrelevant. That's what the man said came to his mind at the time. :) SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 20:30, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Hiya SV, and thanks much for copyediting, I was only able to get to the end of the subsection on his discoveries. The definition at Merriam Webster online doesn't support me, but one of their examples does: “The first time we met,” he recalled, “we got into a big argument.” "Recalled" probably means "remembered and said" here. I can go poke around in Garner's Modern American Usage and M-W's English Usage if I need to; without looking, I'm pretty sure that some readers will hear "said" when they read "recalled". - Dank (push to talk) 20:43, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
  • He did not say it at the time, but in a TV interview years later. The article notes the history of the phrase. Hawkeye7 (talk) 20:46, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
No one is saying he said it at the time. But he said later that he recalled it at the time, when he saw the explosion. That was what popped into his mind. Not "in reference to," which doesn't mean much, but "during" the test. If you don't like "recalled," another word could be found, but "in reference to the test" isn't ideal writing, and it lacks specificity. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 21:00, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Agreed, and I gave it a whack. - Dank (push to talk) 21:57, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't think it works, Dank. He didn't later say it only brought to mind. It was when he saw the explosion, the first thing that went through his mind was "holy shit, I am become death." It's very dramatic, personal, and sad, and we ought to reflect that immediacy. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 22:31, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
I've made it closer to the 1948 Time article, which I believe is the original source: "The first atomic bomb was detonated in July 1945 in the Trinity test in New Mexico; Oppenheimer said later that two lines from the Bhagavad Gita flashed through his mind when he saw the explosion: 'I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.'" SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 22:41, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Looks great, thanks. - Dank (push to talk) 22:51, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, but it has been reverted. Hawkeye, could you explain why you want "Oppenheimer remarked later that it brought to mind words from the Bhagavad Gita: "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." It's dull writing, and worse it's ambiguous, in that it doesn't make clear that's what flashed through his mind when he saw the explosion, which is the whole point of including it in the lead. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 19:22, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
No, the whole point of including it in the lead is because it is a really famous quote, right up there with "one small step for [a] man". The ambiguity was deliberate.

According to TIME (1948):

He held on to a post to steady himself . . . When the announcer shouted 'Now!' and there came this tremendous burst of light, followed ... by the deep-growling roar of the explosion, his face relaxed into an expression of tremendous relief." Oppenheimer recalls that two lines of the Bhagavad-Gita flashed through his mind: "I am become death, the shatterer of worlds."

Read more:,9171,853367-8,00.html#ixzz1Goe7k8zx

According to Jungk (1958):

A passage from the Bhagavad-Gita, the sacred epic of the Hindus, flashed into his mind:

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One

Yet, when the sinister and gigantic cloud rose up in the far distance over Point Zero, he was reminded of another line from the same source:

I am become Death, the shatterer of worlds.

So the question is, was it when he saw the explosion (the flash) or several minutes later (as the cloud rose)?

To me it seems that the flash would likely evoke the "radiance of the thousand suns". You then wait a little while and the earth quakes. Now your mind takes you a few lines further down to the shatterer. Hawkeye7 (talk) 01:30, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

Also, you misunderstand the Gita; the meaning is more akin to "now I am ready to do battle". Hawkeye7 (talk) 01:59, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

Historian Barton Bernstein: "How much can, and should, historians trust Oppenheimer's post-war claim that... he thought of the fateful evocative words?" Hawkeye7 (talk) 12:05, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

He said of the reaction of those watching the test: "A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture ... Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." [3]
Writing "Oppenheimer remarked later that it brought to mind words from the Bhagavad Gita" doesn't quite capture that he remembered it at that moment. It's a minor point, I suppose, about how to present it. I just don't see any reason not to capture that immediacy, and "flashed through his mind" does that. But I won't harp on about it. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 23:28, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

Los Alamos Ranch aquistion

"The owners of the school and land were approached and were interested in selling it for the price the government offered

Hardly. The school's asking price for their 772 acres was $500,000, while the government only offered $275,000. There was prolonged legal haggling, in which the government raised its price to $320,000, and then to $335,000. The land was of course condemned under eminient domain, and the construction workers moved in, but litigation dragged on into 1944. Hawkeye7 (talk) 02:10, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
Yikes, that's not the picture Rhodes painted. I'll revert it if you haven't already done so. SBHarris 22:30, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Poisoned apple...again

I am taking out the part about the poisoned apple. We already had a discussion about this before. Gladwell (who is not an expert on Oppenheimer) is the only source for the allegation. Most Oppenheimer experts and biographers including Bird and Sherwin, Cassidy and Rhodes describe the act as ambiguous at best, something that Oppenheimer may have actually done or a story he may have made up under stress, jealousy and depression. In any case, citing it as an undisputed fact based only on Gladwell's assertion is not warranted. But somebody could work it in in a more speculative manner if they are interested. Ashujo 19:30, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

From Bird and Sherwin:
In the fall of 1925, Oppenheimer poisoned an apple with chemicals from the laboratory and put it on Blackett's desk ... As Robert's parents were still visiting Cambridge, the university authorities immediately informed them of what had happened. Julius Oppenheimer frantically - and successfully - lobbied the university not to press criminal charges. After protracted negotiations, it was agreed that Robert would be put on probation and have regular sessions with a prominent Harley Street psychiatrist in London. This Freudian analyst diagnosed dementia praecox, a now archaic label for symptoms associated with schizophrenia. He concluded that Oppenheimer was a hopeless case and that "further analysis would do more harm than good". I do not have my books here, so this will have to wait a couple of weeks. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:45, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

The story about the apple needlessly besmirches JRO's reputation. It should be removed. The London psychiatric analysis possibly revealed that he merely suffered from an eating disorder and was known to leave uneaten apples behind him when he left a room.Lestrade (talk) 17:10, 25 April 2011 (UTC)Lestrade
Do you want it redacted because it is not true, or because it besmirches his reputation? Hawkeye7 (talk) 22:49, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
I've reverted an anon's removal of the material as I see no consensus as yet to take out this cited material. I also note that it was accepted at the article's FAC review. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 01:26, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

"What is Truth? said jesting Pilate," Francis Bacon.Lestrade (talk) 01:32, 26 April 2011 (UTC)Lestrade

Did anyone actually see JRO poison the apple? If so, we all know how perceptions are deceptive. Did JRO freely admit to it? If so, was he coerced or did he confess in order to protect Miss Margaret Casierro, whom he may have been dating?Lestrade (talk) 20:02, 26 April 2011 (UTC)Lestrade
The apple story is just one of many items that could negatively influence JRO's reputation. The man had flaws, and he did not freely admit to most of those flaws. Roger (talk) 09:40, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

I think it is best to add that the act was ambiguous at best. I will get some more references from Rhodes, Herken and Cassidy and then amend the account as it currently stands. Ashujo 19:30, 5 March 2011 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

We have good sources for it. Anbiguity will just confuse the reader. If you can convince me that it is factually incorrect, from Sherwin or Herken, then I will remove it from the article. Hawkeye7 (talk) 06:29, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Oppenheimer's own account (which is narrated pretty much only by Ferguson) is the only authentic version we have. Thus it's only fair to indicate that Ferguson's account is the only existing detailed version. I don't think there's any ambiguity in communicating this. It's interesting that this story was never a part of the article until Malcolm Gladwell wrote about it in the New Yorker. Gladwell is not an expert on Oppenheimer and has not even provided references in his article (verifiability, anyone?); thus I won't call him a "good source". When someone is communicating such a strange story of significant import, it's worth conveying the ambiguity in it. In any case, I have tried to pen a simple yet inclusive version of the event. Ashujo 19:30, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

I can live with this new version. I note also that you restored my edit about Herbert Smith, which was removed during the FAC. Hawkeye7 (talk) 00:09, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

The reason for including Smith is that he played a pretty important role in Oppenheimer's early youth. As I am sure you know, many of his letters from this period are addressed to Smith. I think there's no harm in noting him as an important influence on Oppenheimer. Ashujo 19:30, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

"Named names"?

"Had Oppenheimer's clearance not been stripped then he might have been remembered as someone who had "named names" to save his own reputation."

This is probably true, but in the absence of a reference it decidedly sounds like speculation. Does anyone know a reference we can include? Ashujo (talk) 11:51, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

There is a reference. Polenberg 2005, pp. 267–272. The whole article is referenced. Hawkeye7 (talk) 20:18, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Do you think you can state the reference after the line? Thanks. Ashujo (talk) 11:51, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Done. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:25, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Lecture with Oppenheimer

I enjoyed this : RLA: 1953 6. The Sciences and Man's Community Professor Robert Oppenheimer explains how human communities resemble atoms in the final Reith Lecture from his series ‘Science and the Common Understanding’. James Michael DuPont (talk) 04:05, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

No evidence that J. Robert's father's middle initial was "S"

I deleted the "S" from J. Robert's father Julius' name. Neither census records nor his certificate of marriage to Ella Friedman contain the "S" middle initial. Furthermore, this fuels confusion among many genealogists that J. Robert's father was actually Julius Seligman Oppenheimer, who was born in NYC in 1865, NOT Germany. Briankaz (talk) 12:33, 3 February 2012 (UTC)

New Oppenheimer biography

A new biography of Oppenheimer was published recently. Inside the Centre: The Life of J Robert Oppenheimer by Ray Monk. A review of it is here. It might be worth adding details of this work to any 'further reading' section, or using it as a source for any new information or opinions to add to the article. Carcharoth (talk) 01:50, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Not so new, but recent, is Brotherhood of the Bomb (the tangled lives and loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence and Edward Teller) by Gregg Herken (2002, Henry Holt & Co, LLC New York). It is an impartial bio of the three main people of the Manhattan Project, J. Robert Openheimer, Edward Teller and Ernest O. Lawrence. This work uses recently de-classified info that paints a more detailed picture of Oppenheimer. It does not, as I have heard many people say, demonize Oppenheimer or call him a Soviet agent. Similarly, It explains some of the actions and words that Lawrence and Teller are often quoted on in reference to Openheimer. People in these talk pages and in the J Robert Oppenheimer article are overly sensitive to any implications, for instance, that Oppenheimer was an active "communist" during the War. Recently de-classified evidence shows that it is without a doubt a fact that Oppenheimer remained a "special" member of the "East Bay" West Coast Communist Party. Brotherhood of the Bomb does not claim that Oppenheimer was anything but a misguided individual--for being associated with such politics while at the same time working on a top-secret U.S. Government project. It explains in detail how Ernest Lawrence was quite aware of Oppenheimers extreme politics and other quirks of a genius, and only asked Robert to promise to "stop the left-wanderings for the duration of the War" so he (Lawrence) could recommend Robert for official inclusion into the top secret S-1 program. Nowhere in Herkin's book do any of the principal characters or the author believe that Oppenheimer engaged in anything like espionage or treason. The closest to anything like that is some questions Edward Teller had about why Oppenheimer lacked his same enthusiasm towards development of the H-bomb. Many of the facts gleaned by Gregg Herken in this book have never been told, because they have never been available before. This work lays to rest many false notions about Oppenheimer and his wartime Manhattan Project work. It brings to light many facts that perhaps fans of Oppenheimer would rather were kept buried for lack of documentation. This book supplies some of that documentation. A book that any serious student of Oppenheimer, Lawrence, Teller, and the whole genre of Manhattan Project should be familiar with. Dunkmack9 (talk) 03:15, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, I have that book too. Herken was a bit overly-ambitious trying to write a triple biography of three men who have defied treatment in single volume works. He gathered a lot of interesting material though, and both are used in the article. I would say that Oppenheimer was both a loyal American and a communist, that his views were not extreme, and whether he ever formally had party membership may never be known. However, many Americans cannot imagine anyone being both a true American and politically left of centre to any degree. But you didn't have to have political motives to oppose Teller's pet project, for the super would never have worked, and the economics of multi-megaton weapons was not promising. Hawkeye7 (talk) 03:52, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

I think the matter of whether or not he was party member is incontrovertible with the info Herken came up with. Just like Dr Addis of Stanford, he was a special member--after he had promised Ernest Lawrence he would not continue his "leftwanderings." But I think your insistance that technically, semantically, not formally, paying no dues or whatever excuse to convince oneself he was not really a true member is likely just precisely the sort of thinking that Oppenheimer employed to continue his ill-advised political activities during this period. I think that Oppenheimer realized Lawrence was right about staying away from controversy while working on a secret government war project too late, and was trapped into a situation whereby he had to keep up the lie for the rest of his life. I do not think Oppenheimer would be anywhere near the folk hero to the left he is today if the truths about his activities where widely known, and admitted in academia. Of course the Super did work, and I think a lot Soviet policy makers would disagree about the economics of hydrogen bombs during the cold war. Dunkmack9 (talk) 08:05, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

The Super design did not work. What happened was that Ulam and Teller came up with the Teller-Ulam device, which enabled fusion to be employed in an entirely different manner. Many people even today do not understand the difference between a boosted fission and a thermonuclear device. But the economics - the requirement for large quantities of tritium - was fundamentally altered by the Teller-Ulam design. The article follows Herken and others in that semantically and formally, Oppenheimer was never a party member - a not unimportant distinction. Hawkeye7 (talk) 09:58, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Super was the term Teller (and others) used for the bomb that was the next step beyond the uranium and plutonium bombs developed by the Manhattan district. Although Teller was working on the H-bomb while also working on the Manhattan Project bombs, his "super" was not perfected until after World War 2. Teller and Ulam both had, no doubt, numerous ideas on how to go about making it work. They also, as you point out, had ideas that they later scrapped. People should actually read Herken's book, because it plainly points out that Oppenheimer was a party member. The old line about only by paying dues in the normal fashion were you an actual party member is de-bunked by Herken. Anyone who believes Robert was not an active party member during the time in question after delving into the facts Herken brought to light is a bit loose on the styrofoam fill. As for the promising economics of the H-bomb, aka Super, no doubt the Soviets came out on the cheaper end as they did little of the actual research and development. Oppenheimer is implicated by a number of sources as the cause of delay in the United States development of the H-bomb, as well as the source of the R&D leaks to the Soviets. However, I think Herken has it about right when he shows Oppenheimer was in deed and without a doubt a party member who was able to draw the line at leaking secrets. Maybe it is time for the Oppenheimer wikipedia article to add a section on Frank Oppenheimer, and how Robert agreed to give up the person General Groves and the FBI had identified only as an "academic type" as long as Groves gave his promise to keep Frank out of it; while all along Robert knew it was Frank they were looking for. Funny how Robert expected Groves to keep a promise to him, but nobody blinks when Robert and Frank cannot keep their repeated promise to Lawrence to "stop the leftwanderings" for the duration. Dunkmack9 (talk) 08:50, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

Very biased article.

Since when is Teller's testifying Oppenheimer was "loyal" testifying against him? The other part of Tellers testimony is not reported here correctly, but somewhat close to what he testified about Oppenheimer-- doing things which I did not understand. That second part could be considered against, or not for, but to be unbiased in this article it must be said of Teller that he testified "for and against" Oppenheimer; to state "testified against" is biased. Is it OK to be biased on certain articles? Scslate (talk) 08:20, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

I have inserted Teller's testimony, and clarified what was meant here. Perhaps it is best though, to work through the issues on the Security Hearing article first. Hawkeye7 (talk) 22:49, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

Can someone add the source for the first Bhagavad Gita reference in the Trinity section?

I had to hunt it down myself. I ask because can't edit the article; presumably someone more authoritative can.


Amateur6 (talk) 18:44, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

YesY Done. Hawkeye7 (talk) 20:03, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

Edit request on 26 July 2013

Caption to picture in Los Alamos section should read:

On the left in the second row is in the middle is Oppenheimer; to his right is Richard Feynman; at far left is Colonel Oliver Haywood; and in the third row between Haywood and Oppenheimer is Edward Teller.

Reason for change: 1. Oppenheimer is described in the current caption as "Left", but Oppenheimer was not a Colonel, and the individual at left is clearly in uniform wearing a colonel's insignia. 2. The Colonel in the second row on the left is my father, who was there at the time, and I recognize him. 3. The individual in the middle I recognize also as Oppenheimer, and the person to his right, not left as currently stated, is recognizable as Feynman. 4. The person to the immediate left of Oppenheimer is almost entirely blocked from view, but does not seem to have the sharp hairline that Feynman was known for. 5. The front row is properly described from Left to Right. 6. I was born in Los Alamos, and have meet some of these people. One was Teller, who I believe is sitting in the third row to the right of my father and left of Oppenheimer, as the only clearly shown face in the third row.

Bob5021 (talk) 06:07, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

The caption has been fixed. Feynman is on Oppenheimer's left, not his right. The person on Oppenheimer's right is almost totally obscured, and is not Feynman. -- Diannaa (talk) 16:02, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
YesY Thanks Bob. I have amended the caption on the article, and the one on Commons now reads:

Photograph of the 1946 colloquium on the Super at Los Alamos. Front row left to right: Norris Bradbury, John Manley, Enrico Fermi and J.M.B. Kellogg. Second row left to right: Colonel Oliver Haywood, unknown, Robert Oppenheimer, Richard Feynman, Phil B. Porter. Third row left to right: Edward Teller, Gregory Breit, Arthur Hemmendinger, Arthur Schelberg.

Hawkeye7 (talk) 20:09, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
Well done Hawkeye, and much more thorough than my fix. -- Ninja Dianna (Talk) 00:48, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. I have created an article on Oliver Haywood. It would be really appreciated if Bob here could donate a photograph. Hawkeye7 (talk) 02:20, 27 July 2013 (UTC)