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Hans Bethe

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Hans Albrecht Bethe (July 2, 1906 – March 6, 2005) was a German-American nuclear physicist, and Nobel laureate in physics for his work on the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis. A versatile theoretical physicist, Bethe also made important contributions to quantum electrodynamics, nuclear physics, solid-state physics and astrophysics. During World War II, he was head of the Theoretical Division at the secret Los Alamos laboratory which developed the first atomic bombs. There he played a key role in calculating the critical mass of the weapons, and did theoretical work on the implosion method used in both the Trinity test and the "Fat Man" weapon dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. For most of his career, Bethe was a professor at Cornell University.

During the early 1950s, Bethe also played an important role in the development of the larger hydrogen bomb, though he had originally joined the project with the hope of proving it could not be made. Bethe later campaigned together with Albert Einstein in the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists against nuclear testing and the nuclear arms race. He influenced the White House to sign the ban of atmospheric nuclear tests in 1963 and the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, SALT I. His scientific research never ceased even into the later years of his life and he was publishing papers well into his nineties. He is one of the few scientists who can claim a major paper in his field every decade of his career, which spanned nearly 70 years. Freeman Dyson called Bethe the "supreme problem solver of the 20th century."


1.) Denis Brian (2001). The Voice Of Genius: Conversations With Nobel Scientists And Other Luminaries. Basic Books. p. 117. ISBN 9780738204475. "Bethe: "I am an atheist.""