By FPL_Staff

"We knew the world would not be the same.”

— J. Robert Oppenheimer

Julius Robert Oppenheimer was a theoretical physicist born April 22, 1904, in New York, New York. He studied physics and chemistry at Harvard University then earned his PhD at Cambridge University. His research primarily focused on atomic structure. 

When Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, the US and Great Britain sought to harness nuclear energy for military purposes. Oppenheimer was chosen to lead this endeavor, which later became known as the Manhattan Project. On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb exploded in the New Mexico desert, thanks to the collective effort of over 600,000 people.

After the success of the Manhattan Project, Oppenheimer was accused of being a McCarthy sympathizer and was stripped of his security clearances. He was later cleared of the accusations and given the Enrico Fermi Award, the highest award bestowed by the Atomic Energy Commission.

Check out these selections for more information:

American Prometheus, opens a new window

The Doomsday Machine, opens a new window

The Bomb, opens a new window

Trinity and Beyond, opens a new window

The Beginning or the End, opens a new window


Britannica: J. Robert Oppenheimer, opens a new window

PBS: A Science Odyssey, J. Robert Oppenheimer, opens a new window

Atomic Heritage Foundation, opens a new window