Biographies

Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project

Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project

Julius Robert Oppenheimer was an American scientist of Jewish origin who was born in New York on April 22, 1904 and died in Princeton on February 18, 1967. He was known to be the scientific director of the famous Manhattan Project, working during World War II to make the United States the first to develop a nuclear weapon at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

In the early stages of his career he focused on the study of the energy processes of subatomic particles such as electrons, positrons and cosmic rays. However, he took part in political affairs as a result of the rise of Nazism in Germany.

Already in 1933 scientists like Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard warned about the danger that humanity could pose to the fact that the Nazi German regime was the first to have an atomic bomb. Robert Oppenheimer focused on the investigation of the process of obtaining uranium-235 from natural uranium, while determining the critical mass of uranium that was necessary to tune the atomic bomb.

Thus, in 1942 Oppenheimer joined the Manhattan Project, working on the management of nuclear energy research and development for military purposes by the various British and American scientists who were part of it. The Manhattan Project headquarters itself, located at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was chosen by Oppenheimer.

After the success obtained with the test that took place in 1945 in Alamogordo, Oppenheimer resigned as Project Director. However, he was elected president of the United States Atomic Energy Commission only two years later, and would hold that position until 1952.

The last years of his career and his life he dedicated to reflect on the problems in the relationship science and society.

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