Frank Friedman Oppenheimer
August 14, 1912
New York City, New York, United States
|Died||February 3, 1985 72) (aged|
|Alma mater|| Johns Hopkins University |
California Institute of Technology
|Known for||Target of McCarthyism |
Founder and director (1969-1985) of the Exploratorium
|Spouse(s)||Jacquenette Yvonne "Jackie" Quann (m. 1936) Mildred "Millie" Danielson (m. 1982),|
|Awards|| Guggenheim Fellowship (1965)|
Oersted Medal (1984)
|Fields|| Particle physicist |
|Institutions|| Arcetri Observatory |
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
University of Minnesota
University of Colorado
|Influenced|| J. Robert Oppenheimer |
Frank Friedman Oppenheimer (August 14, 1912 – February 3, 1985) was an American particle physicist, cattle rancher, professor of physics at the University of Colorado, and the founder of the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
A younger brother of renowned physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, Frank Oppenheimer conducted research on aspects of nuclear physics during the time of the Manhattan Project, and made contributions to uranium enrichment. After the war, Oppenheimer's earlier involvement with the American Communist Party placed him under scrutiny, and he resigned from his physics position at the University of Minnesota. Oppenheimer was a target of McCarthyism and was blacklisted from finding any physics teaching position in the United States until 1957, when he was allowed to teach science at a high school in Colorado. This rehabilitation allowed him to gain a position at the University of Colorado teaching physics. In 1969, Oppenheimer founded the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and he served as its first director until his death in 1985.
Frank Friedman Oppenheimer was born in 1912 in New York City, to Julius Oppenheimer and Ella Friedman. 30During his childhood, he studied painting. He also studied the flute under nationally known teacher George Barrera, becoming competent enough at the instrument to consider a career as a flautist. :
Frank began his schooling at the Ethical Culture School, where he attended until seventh grade. The remainder of his high school education was completed at Fieldston School in Riverdale; a school operated by the Ethical Culture Society.
Frank eventually followed the advice of his older brother Robert, and became a professional physicist. He entered into studies at Johns Hopkins University in 1930, graduating three years later with a BS in physics.Afterwards, Frank studied for a year and a half at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, where he also earned a pilot's license. In 1935, he worked on the development of nuclear particle counters at the Institute di Arcetri in Florence, Italy.
While completing his PhD work at the California Institute of Technology, Oppenheimer became engaged to Jacquenette Quann, an economics student at the University of California, Berkeley; she was also active in the Young Communist League. In spite of Robert's recommendations,Frank and Jackie were married in 1936 and soon both joined the American Communist Party, also against the older brother's advice. Both Frank and his wife were atheists.
Frank Oppenheimer received his PhD in 1939, and completed two postdoctoral years at Stanford.
During World War II, Frank's older brother Robert became the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, part of the Manhattan Project, the Allied effort to produce the first atomic weapons. From 1941 to 1945 Frank worked at the University of California Radiation Laboratory on the problem of uranium isotope separation under the direction of his brother's good friend, Ernest O. Lawrence.In 1945 he was sent to the enrichment facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee to help monitor the equipment. In late 1943 he arrived at the Los Alamos Laboratory. He worked directly under Kenneth T. Bainbridge. His responsibilities included the instrumentation for the Trinity test site, in New Mexico. Oppenheimer was involved in the founding of the Association of Los Alamos Scientists, on the 30th of August 1945. This organization promoted international peaceful control of nuclear power. He later also joined the Federation of American Scientists. He was also a member of the American Physical Society.
After the war, Oppenheimer returned to Berkeley, working with Luis Alvarez and Wolfgang Panofsky to develop the proton linear accelerator. In 1947 he took a position as Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Minnesota,where he participated in the discovery of heavy cosmic ray nuclei.
On July 12, 1947, the Washington Times Herald reported that Oppenheimer had been a member of the Communist Party during the years 1937–1939. At first, he denied these reports, but later admitted they were true.In June 1949, as part of a larger investigation on the possible mishandling of "atomic secrets" during the war, he was called before the United States Congress House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Before the Committee, he testified that he and his wife had been members of the Communist Party for about three and a half years. In 1937 they had been involved in local attempts to desegregate the Pasadena public swimming pool, which was open to non-whites only on Wednesday, after which the pool was drained and the water replaced.
Oppenheimer said he and his wife had joined at a time when they sought answers to the high unemployment experienced in the United States during the later part of the Great Depression. He refused to name others he knew to be members. This caused a media sensation—that J. Robert Oppenheimer's brother was an admitted former member of the Communist Party—and led to Frank resigning from his post at the University of Minnesota.
After being branded a Communist, Oppenheimer could no longer find work in physics in the US, and he was also denied a passport, preventing him from working abroad. 99 Frank and Jackie eventually sold one of the Van Gogh paintings he had inherited from his father, and with the money bought 1500 acres of ranch land near Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and spent nearly a decade as cattle ranchers. :104–115:
In 1957, the Red Scare had lessened to the point that Oppenheimer was allowed to teach science at a local high school. Under Oppenheimer's tutelage, several students from Pagosa Springs High School took first prize at the Colorado State Science Fair. 117 Within two years, supported by endorsements from physicists Hans Bethe, George Gamow, and Victor Weisskopf, :130 Oppenheimer was offered a position at the University of Colorado teaching physics.:
While returning to particle physics research, Oppenheimer also took an increasing interest in developing improvements in science education. He was eventually awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop new pedagogical methods, which resulted in a "Library of Experiments"—nearly one hundred models of classical laboratory experiments which could be used in aiding the teaching of physics to elementary and high school children. 138–139 These models would later become the core of the first exhibits at the Exploratorium. Oppenheimer also worked with the Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC), helping to develop a new high school physics curriculum in the immediate post-Sputnik years. :118:
In his work Oppenheimer followed the well-known old Latin principle Docendo discimus —"the best way to learn is to teach".
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In 1965, Oppenheimer was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to study the history of physics and to conduct bubble chamber research at University College, London, where he was exposed to European science museums for the first time. 141 Inspired, Frank devoted the next years of his life to creating a similar resource in the United States. Upon his return from Europe, he was offered a job planning a new branch of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., but he instead chose to work on setting up a completely independent new type of museum in San Francisco.:
Four years later, in 1969, the Exploratorium opened its doors for the first time—an interactive museum of art, science, and human perception based on the philosophy that science should be fun and accessible for people of all ages, set within the north wing of the stately Palace of Fine Arts of San Francisco. Oppenheimer was able to fund the opening of the Exploratorium partly due to a grant from the San Francisco Foundation. [ citation needed ] There were no admission charges at the Exploratorium for a full twelve years after its opening. The first exhibits in the Exploratorium were constructed with the aid of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and the Ames Research Center (NASA).The San Francisco Foundation gave a $50,000 grant to Oppenheimer to open the 90,000 square foot facility. Oppenheimer served as the first director of the museum, and was personally involved in almost every aspect of its daily operations for the rest of his life. Frank had also visited the Tel Aviv Science Museum in 1965 and later used several of Ivan Moscovich's designs and exhibits in his revolutionary Exploratorium in San Francisco.
Frank Oppenheimer had a lifelong belief in the importance of art in an equal and closely connected relationship to science. 185 He personally recruited artist Bob Miller to create Sun Painting, the first major art installation at the Exploratorium. :180 Another early work was the Tactile Dome (1971), by August Coppola (father of actor Nicolas Cage and brother of the film director Francis Coppola). This was a 3-dimensional tightly convoluted passage that was completely dark inside, and which visitors had to explore relying on the sense of touch, encountering many tactile experiences along the way. Both installations proved to be immensely popular, and renewed versions of both are still on display today. In 1974, Oppenheimer established an ongoing artist-in-residence program at the Exploratorium, regularly bringing in a succession of emerging and established artists working at the boundaries of art and science. :179–203:
The Exploratorium aimed to introduce and inspire, as well as teach. The museum exposed people to science by means of human perception. It provides a form of "educational sightseeing" as well as the understanding of the underlying principles. Its intention was not to replace a science class, but rather to inspire people to learn about science.The exhibits were arranged and structured to allow for free access to any part of the museum. Oppenheimer wanted people to be able to explore the museum and learn at their own pace, following a path that made sense to them and stimulated their curiosity. The idea of having people explore the museum in a way that appeals to everyone was an essential element. Instead of tour guides, fifteen to twenty college students or secondary students, as well as some adults, were employed as "explainers". They demonstrate the exhibits and explain the principles involved all while circulating among visitors, rather than guiding them along. Oppenheimer strove to make learning a fun and enjoyable experience for all.
In 1977, Oppenheimer was diagnosed with lymphoma, and underwent two years of successful chemotherapy. 294 Oppenheimer's first wife Jacquenette, died in 1980. In 1983, lung cancer was discovered (he was a heavy smoker ), and he underwent a lobectomy, in spite of which he continued to play the flute. :294 Oppenheimer still remained active, appearing at the Exploratorium nearly daily until the last few weeks of his life. He died at home in Sausalito, California, on February 3, 1985. :298:
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Frank Oppenheimer died in 1985, leaving his second wife, Mildred Danielson, son Michael, and daughter Judith.
Oppenheimer's papers and archives were transferred to the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. Oppenheimer authored over 60 technical and nontechnical papers.The bulk of this collection covers his work in physics and education in the years leading up to his founding of the Exploratorium. Also included are papers related to his investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Historical archives of the Exploratorium (1957—present) are also kept at the Bancroft. The University of Minnesota holds archives covering Oppenheimer's physics work during 1946-1959.
Oppenheimer considered the Exploratorium and its educational programs to be his most important accomplishment and legacy. A collection of selected Oppenheimer papers on science, art, and education is available online at the Exploratorium website.
The Frank Oppenheimer Fellowship Fund was created at the Exploratorium to provide for the exchange of science museum personnel both nationally and internationally.
Interviewed by director Jon Else, Frank Oppenheimer appears throughout The Day After Trinity (1980), an Academy Award-nominated documentary about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the building of the atomic bomb.
Julius Robert Oppenheimer 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. The first atomic bomb was successfully 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." In August 1945, the weapons were used in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Ernest Orlando Lawrence was a pioneering American nuclear scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1939 for his invention of the cyclotron. He is known for his work on uranium-isotope separation for the Manhattan Project, as well as for founding the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
George Gamow, born Georgiy Antonovich Gamov, was a Soviet-American theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He was an early advocate and developer of Lemaître's Big Bang theory. He discovered a theoretical explanation of alpha decay by quantum tunneling, invented the liquid drop model and the first mathematical model of the atomic nucleus, and worked on radioactive decay, star formation, stellar nucleosynthesis and Big Bang nucleosynthesis, and molecular genetics.
Eric Allin Cornell is an American physicist who, along with Carl E. Wieman, was able to synthesize the first Bose–Einstein condensate in 1995. For their efforts, Cornell, Wieman, and Wolfgang Ketterle shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001.
Raymond Thayer Birge was an American physicist.
Robert Rathbun Wilson was an American physicist known for his work on the Manhattan Project during World War II, as a sculptor, and as an architect of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), where he was the first director from 1967 to 1978.
Oppenheimer is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:
Melba Newell Phillips was an American physicist and pioneer science educator. One of the first doctoral students of J. Robert Oppenheimer at the University of California, Berkeley, Phillips completed her Ph.D. in 1933, a time when few women pursued careers in science. In 1935 Oppenheimer and Phillips published their description of the Oppenheimer-Phillips effect, an early contribution to nuclear physics that explained the behavior of accelerated nuclei of radioactive hydrogen atoms. Phillips was also known for refusing to cooperate with a U.S. Senate judiciary subcommittee's investigation on internal security during the McCarthy era that led to her dismissal from her professorship at Brooklyn College, where she was a professor of science from 1938 until 1952.
Ross Lomanitz (1921–2003) was an American physicist.
Gerson Goldhaber was a German-born American particle physicist and astrophysicist. He was one of the discoverers of the J/ψ meson which confirmed the existence of the charm quark. He worked at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with the Supernova Cosmology Project, and was a professor of physics emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley as well as a professor at Berkeley's graduate school in astrophysics.
Lawrence N. Shaw was an American physicist, curator, artist and founder of Pi Day. Larry Shaw worked at the San Francisco science museum The Exploratorium for 33 years, performing just about every function for the museum. He was a key member of the arts and technology community in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Hugh Bradner was an American physicist at the University of California who is credited with inventing the neoprene wetsuit, which helped to revolutionize scuba diving.
The Exploratorium is a museum of science, technology, and arts in San Francisco. Characterized as "a mad scientist's penny arcade, a scientific funhouse, and an experimental laboratory all rolled into one", the participatory nature of its exhibits and its self-identification as a center for informal learning has led to it being cited as the prototype for participatory museums around the world.
David Hawkins was a professor whose interests included the philosophy of science, mathematics, economics, childhood science education, and ethics. He also served as an administrative assistant at Manhattan Project's Los Alamos Laboratory, and later as one of its official historians. Together with Herbert A. Simon, he discovered and proved the Hawkins–Simon theorem.
The Oppenheimer security hearing was a 1954 proceeding by the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) that explored the background, actions, and associations of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American scientist who had headed the Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II, where he played a key part in the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb. The hearing resulted in Oppenheimer's Q clearance being revoked. This marked the end of his formal relationship with the government of the United States, and generated considerable controversy regarding whether the treatment of Oppenheimer was fair, or whether it was an expression of anti-Communist McCarthyism.
LeConte Hall is a building on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. It is home to the physics department. LeConte Hall was one of the largest physics buildings in the world at the time it was opened in 1924, and was also the site of the first atom collider, built by Ernest O. Lawrence in 1931. The building was named in honor of the brothers Joseph and John LeConte, professors of Physics and Geology, who were respectively the first and third presidents of UC Berkeley.
James P. Crutchfield is an American mathematician and physicist. He received his B.A. summa cum laude in Physics and Mathematics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1979 and his Ph.D. in Physics there in 1983. He is currently a Professor of Physics at the University of California, Davis, where he is Director of the Complexity Sciences Center—a new research and graduate program in complex systems. Prior to this, he was Research Professor at the Santa Fe Institute for many years, where he ran the Dynamics of Learning Group and SFI's Network Dynamics Program. From 1985 to 1997, he was a Research Physicist in the Physics Department at the University of California, Berkeley. He has been a Visiting Research Professor at the Sloan Center for Theoretical Neurobiology, University of California, San Francisco; a Post-doctoral Fellow of the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science at UCB; a UCB Physics Department IBM Post-Doctoral Fellow in Condensed Matter Physics; a Distinguished Visiting Research Professor of the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and a Bernard Osher Fellow at the San Francisco Exploratorium.
Goéry Delacôte, Légion d'honneur, is a French theoretical physicist and science educator. He has been involved with the direction of science centres in Europe and the United States. He was instrumental in establishing the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie in Paris, and was head of scientific information and communication at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) for 10 years from 1982.
K.C. Cole is an American science writer, author, radio commentator, and professor emerita at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She has covered science for The Los Angeles Times since 1994, as well as writing for many other publications, and has been described as "the queen of the metaphor in science writing".
Physics outreach encompasses facets of science outreach and physics education, and a variety of activities by schools, research institutes, universities, clubs and institutions such as science museums aimed at broadening the audience for and awareness and understanding of physics. While the general public may sometimes be the focus of such activities, physics outreach often centers on developing and providing resources and making presentations to students, educators in other disciplines, and in some cases researchers within different areas of physics.
For the locals, it was as if aliens had landed. "The normal folks were wearing tight jeans and cowboy hats, and here was a rancher who didn't wear a hat," said Pete Richards, who lived on one of the neighboring ranches at the time. "He was skinnier than a rail, he was really hyper. Both he and Jackie swore like sailors. And they were atheists!.