The Life of Robert Oppenheimer

Timeline created by jordanvolner
  • Born

    Born
    His parents, Julius S. Oppenheimer, a wealthy German textile merchant, and Ella Friedman, an artist, were of Jewish descent but did not observe the religious traditions
  • College years

    College years
    He studied at the Ethical Culture Society School, whose physics laboratory has since been named for him, and entered Harvard in 1922, intending to become a chemist, but soon switching to physics. He graduated summa cum laude in 1925 and went to England to conduct research at Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory.
  • College Continued

    College Continued
    Oppenheimer went to the University of Göttingen to study under Max Born, obtaining his Ph.D. at the age of 22. There, he published many important contributions to the then newly developed quantum theory, most notably a famous paper on the so-called Born-Oppenheimer approximation, which separates nuclear motion from electronic motion in the mathematical treatment of molecules.
  • Awards During College and Soon After

    Awards During College and Soon After
    Oppenheimer became credited with being a founding father of the American school of theoretical physics. He did important research in astrophysics, nuclear physics, spectroscopy and quantum field theory. He made important contributions to the theory of cosmic ray showers, and did work that eventually led toward descriptions of quantum tunneling.
  • Married With Children

    Married With Children
    In November 1940, Oppenheimer married Katherine Peuning Harrison, a radical Berkeley student, and by May 1941 they had their first child, Peter.
  • Career

    Career
    When World War II began, Oppenheimer eagerly became involved in the efforts to develop an atomic bomb, which were already taking up much of the time and facilities of Lawrence's Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley. He was invited to take over work on neutron calculations. General Leslie Groves appointed Oppenheimer as the scientific director of the Manhattan Project.
  • Los Alamos

    Los Alamos
    Under Oppenheimer's guidance, the laboratories at Los Alamos were constructed. There, he brought the best minds in physics to work on the problem of creating an atomic bomb. In the end, he was managing more than 3,000 people, as well as tackling theoretical and mechanical problems that arose
  • Post World War II

    Post World War II
    After the war, Oppenheimer was appointed Chairman of the General Advisory Committee to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), serving from 1947 to 1952. It was in this role that he voiced strong opposition to the development of the hydrogen bomb.
  • Finaly Award

    Finaly Award
    In 1953, at the height of U.S. anticommunist feeling, Oppenheimer was accused of having communist sympathies, and his security clearance was taken away. The scientific community, with few exceptions, was deeply shocked by the decision of the AEC. President Lyndon B. Johnson attempted to redress these injustices by honoring Oppenheimer with the Atomic Energy Commission's prestigious Enrico Fermi Award.
  • Death

    Death
    Throat Cancer