Tuesday, March 08, 2005
As you already know if you read any other physics blogs, Hans Bethe passed away Sunday at the age of 98. His remarkable career included work on the Manhattan project as well as providing the crucial insights into how stars are powered by nuclear fusion. He was a constant source of inspiration within the community for how he remained active at the cutting edge of research through such a long career.
Bethe was one of the many physicists of Jewish heritage who fled Germany in the 1930's, and his moral and political convictions remained a primary motivating factor in his life. As mentioned in the New York Times obituary, Bethe was "the liberal counterpoint (and proud of it) to Edward Teller, the physicist and conservative who played a dominant role in developing the hydrogen bomb." David Appell has a representative quote: "Whether or not their governments respond to their advice, scientists have an obligation to speak out publicly when they feel there are dangers ahead." Although he fought against development of the hydrogen bomb, he was an advocate of the peaceful uses of nuclear power.
See other posts by Matthew Nobes, Jacques Distler, Peter Woit, and Mok.