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J. D. Bernal

AKA John Desmond Bernal

Born: 10-May-1901
Birthplace: Tipperary, Ireland
Died: 15-Sep-1971
Location of death: London, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Battersea New Cemetery, Morden, England

Gender: Male
Religion: Atheist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist, Activist

Nationality: Ireland
Executive summary: X-ray crystallography

J. D. Bernal conducted important early work in X-ray crystallography and molecular biology, detailing the structures of proteins and the nucleic acids, and establishing that X-ray studies of proteins work best in the wet state. He wrote about varied topics from the origin of life to space colonization. His students included Rosalind Franklin, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Aaron Klug, and Max F. Perutz. He was Lord Mountbatten's scientific adviser during World War II, and helped design the Mulberry Harbor, an artificial breakwater used to supply the WWII invasion along the coast of Normandy, France. An enthusiastic Marxist, Bernal is perhaps better known for his books on science under capitalism and communism, The Social Function of Science and Science in History. He had a long and open marriage, and his son is the historian Martin Bernal.

Father: Samuel Bernal
Mother: Elizabeth Miller Bernal ("Bessie", journalist)
Wife: Agnes Eileen Sprague (transcriptionist, m. 1921)
Mistress: Margaret Gardiner (artist, b. 1904, d. 2005, one son)
Son: Martin Bernal (historian, b. 1937)
Mistress: Margot Heinemann (writer, d. 1992, one daughter)
Daughter: Jane Bernal (psychiatrist)

    High School: Bedford School, Bedford, England
    University: BS, Cambridge University (1923)
    Teacher: Structural Crystallography, Cambridge University (1927-37)
    Professor: Physics, Birbeck College, University of London (1937-63)
    Professor: Crystallography, Birbeck College, University of London (1963-68)

    Lenin Peace Prize 1953
    Royal Medal 1945
    Royal Society
    Royal Institution of Great Britain
    Irish Ancestry (maternal and paternal)
    Jewish Ancestry (maternal and paternal)
    Spanish Ancestry (paternal)
    American Ancestry (maternal)

Author of books:
The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1929)
The Social Function of Science (1939)
The Freedom of Necessity (1949)
The Origin of Life (1967)
Science in History (1975)


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