in reply to Re^3: poll ideas quest 2017
in thread poll ideas quest 2017

Oh sure, the McCarthyist trials of the 1950s were a disgrace and Oppenheimer was falsely convicted. There is no evidence, despite having many communist friends (including his brother Frank and long time girlfriend Jean Tatlock), that Oppenheimer passed on any atomic secrets (unlike Klaus Fuchs, say). Yet I still find it remarkable that the Security apparatus knew all about Oppenheimer's communist associations of the 1930s (even tailing him to a secret romantic liaison with Jean Tatlock in 1943) and wanted him removed, yet General Leslie Groves managed to fight them off time and time again. Groves and Oppenheimer were an odd couple!

Oppenheimer had an incredibly broad range of interests for a physicist, for example choosing the name "Trinity" from the poetry of John Donne. I love this Paul Dirac anecdote:

Anecdotally, when Oppenheimer was working at Göttingen, Dirac supposedly came to him one day and said: "Oppenheimer, they tell me you are writing poetry. I do not see how a man can work on the frontiers of physics and write poetry at the same time. They are in opposition. In science you want to say something that nobody knew before, in words which everyone can understand. In poetry you are bound to say... something that everybody knows already in words that nobody can understand."