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date: 25 February 2021

Oppenheimer, J. Robertlocked

(22 April 1904–18 February 1967)
  • Mark C. Carnes


Oppenheimer, J. Robert (22 April 1904–18 February 1967), theoretical physicist and director of the Los Alamos Laboratory (Manhattan Project), theoretical physicist and director of the Los Alamos Laboratory (Manhattan Project), was born Julius Robert Oppenheimer in New York City, the son of Julius Oppenheimer, a wealthy textile importer, and Ella Friedman, a painter. Although the family was of Jewish descent, they had no religious affiliations. The boy, known as Robert, grew up in a sumptuous Manhattan apartment whose walls were decorated with paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, and Paul Gauguin. In the summers he went sailing at the family estate on Long Island. He became interested in mineral collecting and sent letters to the New York Mineralogy Club, which, unaware that their learned correspondent was only twelve years old, invited him to present a paper. It was a success. Frail and bookish, he fared less well among people his own age, who often teased and occasionally tormented him. In 1921 Oppenheimer graduated from the Ethical Culture School of New York at the top of his class....

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