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1 Burnside History of Science- General

In the Shadow of the Bomb: Bethe, Oppenheimer, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist (Princeton Series in Physics)

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In the Shadow of the Bomb: Bethe, Oppenheimer, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist (Princeton Series in Physics) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the Shadow of the Bomb narrates how two charismatic, exceptionally talented physicists--J. Robert Oppenheimer and Hans A. Bethe--came to terms with the nuclear weapons they helped to create. In 1945, the United States dropped the bomb, and physicists were forced to contemplate disquieting questions about their roles and responsibilities. When the Cold War followed, they were confronted with political demands for their loyalty and McCarthyism's threats to academic freedom. By examining how Oppenheimer and Bethe--two men with similar backgrounds but divergent aspirations and characters--struggled with these moral dilemmas, one of our foremost historians of physics tells the story of modern physics, the development of atomic weapons, and the Cold War.

Oppenheimer and Bethe led parallel lives. Both received liberal educations that emphasized moral as well as intellectual growth. Both were outstanding theoreticians who worked on the atom bomb at Los Alamos. Both advised the government on nuclear issues, and both resisted the development of the hydrogen bomb. Both were, in their youth, sympathetic to liberal causes, and both were later called to defend the United States against Soviet communism and colleagues against anti-Communist crusaders. Finally, both prized scientific community as a salve to the apparent failure of Enlightenment values.

Yet, their responses to the use of the atom bomb, the testing of the hydrogen bomb, and the treachery of domestic politics differed markedly. Bethe, who drew confidence from scientific achievement and integration into the physics community, preserved a deep integrity. By accepting a modest role, he continued to influence policy and contributed to the nuclear test ban treaty of 1963. In contrast, Oppenheimer first embodied a new scientific persona--the scientist who creates knowledge and technology affecting all humanity and boldly addresses their impact--and then could not carry its burden. His desire to retain insider status, combined with his isolation from creative work and collegial scientific community, led him to compromise principles and, ironically, to lose prestige and fall victim to other insiders.

Schweber draws on his vast knowledge of science and its history--in addition to his unique access to the personalities involved--to tell a tale of two men that will enthrall readers interested in science, history, and the lives and minds of great thinkers.

Synopsis:

"Schweber deals with the political involvements and ethical responsibilities of physicists in and after World War II in a new way and takes up themes and events that have not been dealt with in detail, or at all, in other works. The book is a study in parallel lives, and, as Schweber points out, there are just enough of both similarities and differences in the backgrounds of Oppenheimer and Bethe to make a comparison of their almost-parallel lives meaningful and rewarding. I consider the work to be important as well as very readable."--Helge Kragh, author of Quantum Generations

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 239-255) and index.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xvii

INTRODUCTION 3

1. WHAT IS ENLIGHTENMENT? 28

2. J. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER 42

Oppenheimer and the Ethical Culture Movement 42

The Agenda of the Ethical Culture Society 46

The Teaching of Ethics at the School 50

The Maturation of Oppenheimer 53

Becoming a Physicist: Oppenheimer and His School 61

3. HANS BETHE 76

Becoming a Bildungstrager 76

Becoming a Physicist: Arnold Sommerfeld 87

Wholeness and Stability 91

Los Alamos 104

Bethe and Oppenheimer: Their Entanglement 107

4.THE CHALLENGE OF McCARTHYISM 115

The Bernard Peters Case 115

The Philip Morrison Case 130

Some Concluding Comments 146

5.NUCLEAR WEAPONS 149

Atomic Bombs 149

Hydrogen Bombs 156

PSAC and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty 168

6.ON SCIENCE AND SOCIETY 178

EPILOGUE 183

Notes to the Chapters 187

Bibliography 239

Index 257

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691049892
Subtitle:
Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist
Author:
Schweber, Silvan S.
Author:
Schweber, Silvan S.
Author:
Schweber, S. S.
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton, N.J. :
Subject:
Physics
Subject:
History
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Atomic bomb
Subject:
Nuclear physicists
Subject:
History of Science and Medicine, Philosophy of Science
Subject:
American history
Subject:
Oppenheimer, J. Robert
Subject:
Atomic bomb -- Moral and ethical aspects.
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Princeton Series in Physics
Publication Date:
April 2000
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
10 halftones.
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General

In the Shadow of the Bomb: Bethe, Oppenheimer, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist (Princeton Series in Physics) Used Hardcover
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Product details 288 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691049892 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Schweber deals with the political involvements and ethical responsibilities of physicists in and after World War II in a new way and takes up themes and events that have not been dealt with in detail, or at all, in other works. The book is a study in parallel lives, and, as Schweber points out, there are just enough of both similarities and differences in the backgrounds of Oppenheimer and Bethe to make a comparison of their almost-parallel lives meaningful and rewarding. I consider the work to be important as well as very readable."--Helge Kragh, author of Quantum Generations
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