DEAD: J. Robert Oppenheimer

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

J. Robert Oppenheimer (aged 62)

Father of the atomic bomb

Julius Robert Oppenheimer (April 22, 1904 – February 18, 1967) was an American theoretical physicist and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. Oppenheimer was the wartime head of the Los Alamos Laboratory and is among those who are credited with being the “father of the atomic bomb” for their role in the Manhattan Project, the World War II undertaking that developed the first nuclear weapons used in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The first atomic bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945, in the Trinity test in New Mexico; Oppenheimer later remarked that it brought to mind words from the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

DEATH: Oppenheimer was a chain smoker who was diagnosed with throat cancer in late 1965. After inconclusive surgery, he underwent unsuccessful radiation treatment and chemotherapy late in 1966. He fell into a coma on February 15, 1967, and died at his home in Princeton, New Jersey, on February 18, aged 62. A memorial service was held a week later at Alexander Hall on the campus of Princeton University.

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