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Hans Bethe

Hans BetheAKA Hans Albrecht Bethe

Born: 2-Jul-1906
Birthplace: Strassburg, Germany
Died: 6-Mar-2005
Location of death: Ithaca, NY
Cause of death: Natural Causes

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Atomic scientist

Hans Bethe (pronounced beta) earned his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Munich in 1928, and in 1932 became an assistant professor at Tübingen University in lovely Tübingen, Germany. Bethe had been raised in a Christian household, but his mother had been born Jewish, so as Hitler rose to power, Bethe's career evaporated. After a few years in Britain, Bethe joined the faculty at Cornell University in New York. He became an American citizen in 1941.

His study of the carbon-nitrogen cycle in bright stars and the proton-proton reaction in fainter stars won him a Nobel Prize. Bethe was invited to work on the Manhattan Project, developing the atomic bomb, and he was skeptical about whether it could be built, but he felt he owed it to his adopted homeland. He was named head of project's Theoretical Division, and they designed a bomb that did indeed work.

Upon seeing the effects of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, Bethe immediately became an activist for nuclear disarmament. He wrote of the futility of the so-called "Star Wars" missile defense system, and worked with the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, the Federation of American Scientists, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Until his death, Bethe continued to use a slide rule, instead of a calculator.

Father: Albrecht Bethe (Professor of physiology)
Mother: Anna Kuhn
Wife: Rose Ewald (daughter of Prof. P.P. Ewald; m. 1939, one son, one daughter)
Son: Henry
Daughter: Monica

    University: University of Frankfurt
    University: PhD Physics, University of Munich (1928)
    Professor: University of Tübingen (-1933)
    Professor: Cornell University (1937-75, emeritus thereafter)

    Manhattan Project
    American Philosophical Society
    American Physical Society President (1954)
    American Astronomical Society
    Bill Bradley for President
    Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Board of Directors
    Council for a Livable World
    Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
    Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
    Federation of American Scientists
    National Academy of Sciences
    Royal Society Foreign Member
    Henry Draper Medal 1947
    Max Planck Medal 1955
    Enrico Fermi Award 1961
    Eddington Medal 1961
    Rumford Prize 1963
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1967
    APS Leo Szilard Award 1981 (with Henry W. Kendall)
    Vannevar Bush Award 1985
    Oersted Medal 1993
    Bruce Medal 2001
    National Medal of Science
    Naturalized US Citizen 1941

    The Day After Trinity (20-Jan-1981) · Himself

Author of books:
Elementary Nuclear Theory (1948, physics)

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