J. Robert Oppenheimer is best known as the “father of the atomic bomb.” He was a brilliant physicist and a gifted leader who played a key role in the Manhattan Project. However, there are many strange and interesting facts about Oppenheimer that you might not know.
- He was a polyglot, speaking six languages fluently: Greek, Latin, French, German, Dutch, and Sanskrit.
- He was a fan of the Bhagavad Gita, and he quoted a line from the text after witnessing the first atomic bomb test.
The Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the epic Mahabharata. It is set in a narrative framework of dialogue between the Pandava prince Arjuna and his charioteer guide Krishna, an avatar of lord Vishnu. The text explores a variety of philosophical issues, including dharma (duty), karma (action), moksha (liberation), and bhakti (devotion).
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most important religious texts in Hinduism and has been translated into many languages. It has also been influential in other religions, such as Buddhism and Jainism.
The line that Oppenheimer is said to have quoted after witnessing the first atomic bomb test is: “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” This line is from Chapter 11, Verse 32 of the Bhagavad Gita. In the context of the text, Krishna is speaking to Arjuna about the cycle of death and rebirth. He is telling Arjuna that he must accept his duty as a warrior, even if it means killing his own relatives.
Oppenheimer’s quoting of this line has been interpreted in different ways. Some people believe that he was simply expressing his horror at the destructive power of the atomic bomb. Others believe that he was also reflecting on the philosophical implications of the bomb, such as the nature of death and the meaning of life.
Whatever his reasons, Oppenheimer’s quoting of the Bhagavad Gita is a reminder of the complex and profound impact that this text has had on human thought
- He was accused of being a communist sympathizer during the McCarthy era, and he had his security clearance revoked.
In 1954, Oppenheimer was called before a security hearing by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The hearing was initiated by Edward Teller, a fellow scientist who was opposed to Oppenheimer’s views on nuclear weapons. Teller testified that Oppenheimer had been a security risk during the 1930s, when he had been a member of several left-wing organizations. He also accused Oppenheimer of delaying the development of the hydrogen bomb.
Oppenheimer defended himself at the hearing, but he was ultimately found to be a security risk. His security clearance was revoked, and he was effectively barred from working on nuclear weapons.
The Oppenheimer security hearing was a controversial event. Many people believed that Oppenheimer was being punished for his views on nuclear weapons, rather than for any real security risk. The hearing also highlighted the excesses of the McCarthy era, when people were often accused of being communists without any evidence
- Oppenheimer was a smoker. He smoked cigarettes heavily, often up to 100 a day. His smoking habit was so well-known that he was nicknamed “Oppie the Smoker.“
- He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics three times, but he never won
- He was a keen mountaineer and skier.
- He was a talented musician and played the piano and violin
- He was a vegetarian and teetotaler.
- He was a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories and even named his dog after the famous detective.
J. Robert Oppenheimer was a fascinating and complex figure. He was a brilliant scientist, a gifted leader, and a controversial figure. His legacy is still debated today, but there is no doubt that he was one of the most important figures of the 20th century.
if you like to know more details about his life and work, check this article here