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Oppenheimer's Legacy: Science and Government in the Shadow of Nuclear Weapons

Wednesday, February 1, 2006
8:00pm to 10:00pm
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Beckman Auditorium
  • Public Event
This event was digitally recorded and is available for viewing on the Caltech Theater site.
The 2006 William and Myrtle Harris
Distinguished Lecture in Science and Civilization

J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) was a Caltech physicist, "father of the atomic bomb," science advisor, opponent of the hydrogen bomb and the most prominent victim of the McCarthy era. Martin J. Sherwin, Professor of History at Tufts University and co-author (with Kai Bird) of the highly acclaimed American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, will focus his lecture primarily on Oppenheimer's life from his Los Alamos "triumph" to the star chamber "hearing" that concluded he was a security risk. His life casts a shadow into our 21st century, as discussed in Sherwin and Bird's article "Bin Laden's Nuclear Connection" in the April 25, 2005 issue of "The Nation."

Following the lecture, a distinguished panel will join Professor Sherwin on stage for a roundtable discussion exploring the historical and ethical ramifications of the creation of the atomic bomb. The participants will consider the broader scientific and political implications in the pursuit of the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Walter Isaacson, President of The Aspen Institute and former Chairman & CEO of CNN and Managing Editor of Time Magazine, will serve as moderator. Panelists include:

  • David Baltimore, President, Caltech
  • Jed Z. Buchwald, Dreyfuss Professor of History, Caltech
  • Robert F. Christy, Institute Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, Caltech and leading researcher on the Manhattan Project

On-site book sales will be available, and a book-signing will follow the event.

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Event Sponsor: Caltech's Division of Humanities & Social Sciences
For more information, please phone (626) 395-4652 or email [email protected].