This article is a biography of Oppenheimer. It begins with Oppenheimer’s childhood and describes how his wealthy Jewish family and the Ethical Culture School shaped his youth. After graduating from Harvard University, Oppenheimer completed graduate studies in Europe at Cambridge University and the University of Göttingen, earning his Ph.D. in 1927. After returning to the U.S., Oppenheimer taught and led research projects at the University of California, Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology. The height of his career was when Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory from 1943 to 1945, during which the atomic bombs were successfully developed and eventually used against Japan and ended the war. The article also examines Oppenheimer’s role as the Advisor of the Atomic Energy Commission and the director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. The controversy surrounding revocation of his security clearance is also presented. The article is a reliable and scholarly source for several reasons. First, the article is downloaded from JSTOR, which is used by professional researchers. Second, the article was published by Royal Society, a reputable publisher. This article has been through a peer review, making it a scholarly source. In addition, the article is a product of extensive research. The list of sources cited section is over five pages long, which increases the article’s credibility.
Everyone who has read Oppenheimer’s biography would agree that he is a fascinating character. His life contained the elements of brilliance, accolades, determination, tragedy, regret, and humiliation. The biography does a wonderful job in providing an overall portrait of who Oppenheimer was and why he deserves a shining spot in American history. In my research paper, I will summarize his life primarily based on the information provided in this article. I will also discuss his leadership at Los Alamos. When Oppenheimer was selected as the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, some people were skeptical, as he had never been in a position of directing a large group of highly diverse and talented people. In three years, Oppenheimer proved to be an excellent choice. His broad scientific knowledge, combined with his passion and engaging personality, led to the effective completion of the atomic bomb development program.
Hijiya, James A. “The “Gita” of J. Robert Oppenheimer.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 144, No. 2 (2000): 123-167. JSTOR. 21 Jan. 2018.
This article examines the influence of the Hindu scripture, Bhagavad Gita (or Gita), on Oppenheimer’s life. For those who wonder how Oppenheimer, who was a pacifist in his college years, turned into an advocate of the use of the atomic bomb on innocent civilians in Hiroshima over the alternative of dropping the bomb on an inhabited area, and why after acknowledging he had “blood on his hands”, he continued to claim the use of the atomic bomb was necessary, this article may provide some insight into Oppenheimer’s inner thinking. From Gita, Oppenheimer extracted the idea that it was his duty to perform what his country asked him to do. He drew comfort from the thought that whatever the results of his actions were, they were determined by fate. Unlike the other resources I have reviewed, this article presents a more complex and contradictory Oppenheimer. The article is a reliable and scholarly source, downloaded from respectable JSTOR. This article was published in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society by American Philosophical Society, a trustworthy publisher. This article has been through a peer review, has in-text citations, and a list of cited sources, making it a scholarly source.
After WWII, Oppenheimer became a world-famous public figure. Although the mainstream media and the general public tended to admire him, Oppenheimer also faced some very high profiled adversaries. The investigation into his governmental security clearance and the public hearing that followed resulted in the revocation of his security clearance in 1954. His protest over the expansion of the nuclear weapons’ program and the development of hydrogen bomb was one of the reasons why some people questioned his loyalty to the United States. However, Oppenheimer was also known to be proud of his accomplishments at Los Alamos and had insisted that the use of the atomic bomb on Japan, which caused devastating destructions of civilian lives, was the right thing to do. This article helps readers understand how Oppenheimer relied on the passages of Gita time and time again to guide and justify his actions. Gita plays such an important role in Oppenheimer’s life, therefore it is very much worth exploring in my research paper.
Hecht, David K. “The Atomic Hero: Robert Oppenheimer and the Making of Scientific Icons in the Early Cold War.” Technology and Culture, Vol. 49, No. 4 (2008): 943-966. JSTOR. 21 Jan. 2018.
This article investigates the heroic public image of Oppenheimer that emerged after WWII and largely remained intact until his death in 1967, despite his loss of security clearance in a rather public fight against the federal government. Because Oppenheimer left very few personal writings, the author replies on published interviews, media coverage, speeches, security hearing recording, and fan letters sent to Oppenheimer to analyze what made Oppenheimer a hero in Americans’ eyes. Although Oppenheimer’s scientific achievements were admirable, his non-scientific characters seemed to have defined his iconic status. The struggle between technological advancements and the moral responsibilities of people with power, which agonized Oppenheimer since the WWII began, was shared by an increasing number of Americans in the early Cold War era. The controversy surrounding Oppenheimer made him more humane and relatable, and therefore more revered. The article is a scholarly source downloaded from reliable JSTOR. This article was published in Technology and Culture by The Johns Hopkins University Press and the Society for the History of Technology, an honorable publisher. This article has been through a peer review, has close to one hundred in-text citations, and a list of cited sources, making it a scholarly source.
The reason I am interested in citing this article in my research paper is that it introduces another perspective in inspecting Oppenheimer’s life. This article explores the cultural context of the period from the height of Oppenheimer’s career as the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory to his less public functions at Princeton University. It is the only source I studied that reviewed a number of personal letters (primary sources) from admiring fans to Oppenheimer. These letters revealed the unwavering support from the public even after Oppenheimer was shunned by his own government, which he served diligently in the previous decade. This piece of information will make my research paper more comprehensive in its presentation of Oppenheimer’s story.
Rigden, John S. “J. Robert Oppenheimer: Before the War.” Scientific American, Vol. 273, No. 1 (1995): 76-81. JSTOR. 21 Jan. 2018.
J. Robert Oppenheimer is best known for his contributions to the development of the atomic bomb. He became a household name after the WWII, during which the world witnessed the awesome power of the atomic bombs delivered by the U.S. on Japan’s soil. However, several substantial discoveries made by Oppenheimer in the field of theoretical physics before the war were often overlooked. The significances of his discoveries were only fully recognized decades after his death. This article discusses Oppenheimer’s major scientific achievements in the 1920s and 1930s. One of such achievements was Oppenheimer’s discovery of the quantum-mechanical tunneling theory in 1928, while he was working at the University of Göttingen in Germany. A scanning tunneling microscope, which is used to scan images of surfaces of atoms was developed in 1981 based on Oppenheimer’s quantum-mechanical tunneling theory. The article is a reliable and scholarly source for several reasons. First, the article is downloaded from JSTOR, which is used by professional researchers. Second, the author, John S. Rigden, is currently director of the physics programs at the American Institute of Physics. Thirdly, the article was published by Scientific American, a division of Nature America, Inc. All articles published in Scientific American have gone through a peer review, making them scholarly sources. In addition, there is a list of sources at the end of the article, which is another indication this is a reliable source.
In my history research paper, I intend to cover Oppenheimer’s life in three time periods: pre-war, during WWII, and post-war. The information I gathered from this article will be used to describe Oppenheimer’s contributions to science before the war, which happen to be the least publicized information about Oppenheimer. For example, I will discuss his and his colleagues’ theory of how neutron stars and black holes could form in the cosmos in the 1930s, much before the theory of black holes became widely accepted by astrophysicists. The first neutron stars, Pulsars, were observed by scientists in 1967, the year Oppenheimer died. The existence of black holes was confirmed by the images collected by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1994.