Oral history of British science

Rotblat, Joseph (3 of 40). National Life Stories Collection: General

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  • Interviewees

    Rotblat, Joseph, 1908-2005 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Thompson, Katherine (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 3: JR was assistant to the physics dept. at the University of Poland. He decided to do the 'Matura' as an external student, he was the first who passed exam. First time. After 'matura' he finished his degree at the University and also did course of education in case he needed to teach. He got post as assistant at University. 1932 - the year of many discoveries - e.g. Chadwick (neutrons), Alicia Dobrowska (spontaneous emission of neutrons), and others. Prof. Wertenstein asked him to check neutron emission experiment, describes in detail his efforts and difficulties, building more sensitive apparatus and his findings. Took 2 years over this. Use of his findings in his later experiments. Discusses problems in science when observations are missed, e.g. fission noted in Italy many years ago and implications if this discovery would have been confirmed earlier. Talk about radioactivity and Marie Curie, Jolliot and Rutherford.J.R. explains how he managed to find materials which gave off radiation, discovered radiation of cobalt, later discovered scattering of neutrons, his need of heavy elements, e.g. gold supplied by mint. Explains details of his experiments. He published his work in French.

  • Description

    Nobel Peace Prize-winner and nuclear physicist Joseph Rotblat in conversation about his life and work. A key figure in the development of the atomic bomb, he left the US government's Manhattan Project once it became apparent that Nazi Germany did not have the capability to build a bomb of its own.

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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