Oral history of British science

Rotblat, Joseph (6 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 6: JR started some research, Chadwick pleased and suggested Olvelt(??) fellowship for him worth ยน120. JR went back to Poland to bring his wife over but she had appendicitis and could not travel so he had to leave without her last week in August. War broke out, JP got no more money from Poland, tried at embassy to get wife to come but total chaos there. Chadwick away at the time, landlord let him stay without paying until new scholarship pay in Oct. Chadwick arranged lectureship for him, started in November, lectured on nuclear physics. The problem of atom bomb always worried him but now more worried because of preparations for atom bomb in Germany. Discussed his worries with Wertenstein in Poland who left problem with his JR's conscience. But when Poland overrun by Germany JR decided to go ahead with work on bomb. Discussed his ideas with Chadwick who supported him and told him to go ahead with his work. He had 2 assistants but continued research in secret. In 1940 they had memorandum outlining the idea of the bomb. Frisch joined them in Liverpool. JR and Frisch had restrictions on movement even though on top-secret project. But he did have an 'illegal' trip to the Lake District.

  • 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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