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Atomic FragmentsA Daughter's Questions$
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Mary Palevsky

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780520220553

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520220553.001.0001

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Hans A. Bethe, Tough Dove

Hans A. Bethe, Tough Dove

(p.19) Chapter 1 Hans A. Bethe, Tough Dove
Atomic Fragments

Mary Palevsky

University of California Press

Hans Bethe stood as the author's portal on the quest to understand the people and times that had created the first weapon capable of breaking the world. Born in Germany in 1906, Bethe experienced firsthand the rise of nationalism in response to the harsh provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1943, Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Los Alamos lab, asked Bethe to head the Theoretical Division of the bomb-building project. This chapter presents Bethe's recollections on the discovery of the fissioning nucleus; the war with Germany; the early days of discovery leading to the development of the atomic weapon; as well as his feelings about the bomb's use during the war and his devotion to preventing its use after the war.

Keywords:   Hans Bethe, Germany, bomb-building project, theoretical physics, fissioning nucleus, atomic weapon

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