Chapter

Robert R. Wilson, the Psyche of A Physicist

Mary Palevsky

in Atomic Fragments

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2000 | ISBN: 9780520220553
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520923652 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520220553.003.0006
Robert R. Wilson, the Psyche of A Physicist

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In October 1996, the author traveled to Ithaca to conduct several interviews at Cornell University. There, Kutt Gottfried, a colleague of his father, introduced her to Robert Wilson, the Manhattan Project experimental physicist. In 1995, he had received an award administered by the American Physical Society given specifically for outstanding work linking physics to the arts and humanities. This chapter presents his admiration of Niels Bohr and his role in the creation of the Federation of American Scientists. It tackles his questioning of the continued development of the bomb after the Germans were defeated, his experience of an epiphany at the Trinity bomb test, and his sense of betrayal on learning that the atomic bomb had been used on Hiroshima. Together with his wife, Jane Wilson, he reveals many reflections on the meaning of success and failure when considering the troubling legacy of atomic weapons.

Keywords: Kutt Gottfried; Robert Wilson; Hiroshima; bomb development; Trinity test; atomic weapons; Jane Wilson

Chapter.  13446 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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