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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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Robert R. Wilson, the Psyche of A Physicist

Robert R. Wilson, the Psyche of A Physicist

(p.125) Chapter 5 Robert R. Wilson, the Psyche of A Physicist
Atomic Fragments

Mary Palevsky

University of California Press

In October 1996, the author traveled to Ithaca to conduct several interviews at Cornell University. There, Kutt Gottfried, a colleague of his father, introduced her to Robert Wilson, the Manhattan Project experimental physicist. In 1995, he had received an award administered by the American Physical Society given specifically for outstanding work linking physics to the arts and humanities. This chapter presents his admiration of Niels Bohr and his role in the creation of the Federation of American Scientists. It tackles his questioning of the continued development of the bomb after the Germans were defeated, his experience of an epiphany at the Trinity bomb test, and his sense of betrayal on learning that the atomic bomb had been used on Hiroshima. Together with his wife, Jane Wilson, he reveals many reflections on the meaning of success and failure when considering the troubling legacy of atomic weapons.

Keywords:   Kutt Gottfried, Robert Wilson, Hiroshima, bomb development, Trinity test, atomic weapons, Jane Wilson

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