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Rudolf Peierls

Rudolf PeierlsAKA Rudolf Ernst Peierls

Born: 5-Jun-1907
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: 19-Sep-1995
Location of death: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: Germany
Executive summary: Frisch-Peierls Memorandum

Author, with Otto Robert Frisch, of the so-called "Frisch-Peierls Memorandum" of March 1940, proposing a "super-bomb which utilizes the energy stored in atomic nuclei as a source of energy." This document inspired both the British "Maud Committee" to investigate the practicability of such a bomb, and the successful American effort to build the bomb, the Manhattan Project. In 1957 the US Government asked (for reasons perhaps related to the fact that his wife was Russian, and that he knew Klaus Fuchs -- who was actually a spy) that Peierls' security clearance be withdrawn, though it is unlikely that Peierls was a spy for anyone. Peierls returned to academia, with professorships at Oxford and the University of Washington until his retirement in 1977.

Father: Heinrich Peierls
Mother: Elizabeth Weigert
Wife: Eugenia Kannegisser ("Genia", m. 15-Mar-1931, three daughters, one son)

    University: University of Berlin
    University: University of Munich
    University: PhD, University of Leipzig (1929)
    University: DS, University of Manchester (1935)
    University: MA, Cambridge University (1937)
    Professor: University of Birmingham (1937-63)
    Professor: Oxford University (1963-74)
    Professor: University of Washington (1974-77)

    Manhattan Project (1943-45)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Physical Society
    Royal Society 1945
    Royal Medal 1959
    Lorentz Medal 1962
    Max Planck Medal 1963
    Enrico Fermi Award 1980
    Matteucci Medal 1982
    Copley Medal 1986
    Commander of the British Empire 1946
    Knighthood 1968
    Naturalized UK Citizen 1940

Author of books:
The Laws of Nature (1955)
Quantum Theory of Solids (1956)
Surprises in Theoretical Physics (1979)
Bird of Passage (1985, memoir)

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