Biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer
It’s strange how the thousands of events that made up one man’s life eventually had a role in the fate of almost 200 thousand Japanese people and later the entire world. Here is the life of the one man. The man is J. Robert Oppenheimer. So little had an impact on so much. He was the man who was in charge of the Manhattan Project. It was the U.S. project to make an atomic bomb. A bomb with, at the time, unimaginable power. A bomb so powerful it could single-handedly destroy an entire city.
J. Robert Oppenheimer was born to well to do Jewish parents on the twenty-second of April 1904. His father, Julius, ran a textile business and his mother, Ella, was a painter. He was born Robert Oppenheimer but his father felt this name wasn’t good enough so he added his initial J. in front. Relations of J. Robert’s grandfather came to New York in the later 1870’s to start up a business of importing cloth. Julius came to America in 1888 at the age of 17. He didn’t even speak English. He was to specialize in the importing of men’s clothing. He felt this was a growing area of interest and that he could make money. Robert visited Germany at age 5 and his grandfather introduced him to the hobby of mineralogy, which he kept up with for years to come. He even joined the New York Mineralogy Club at just eleven years old.
Robert was good in school and did particularly well. By the time he was eleven years old he was able to speak much Greek. He was said to try to soak up as much knowledge as possible. He didn’t like sports. He tried to play tennis but because he was bad at it, he didn’t want to continue. He spoke many different languages including Latin, Greek, French, and German. He often learned a language just so he could read a book in its original language. In just six weeks, he learned Dutch just so he could give a presentation in the Netherlands.
After his last year of school, he went to Germany with his parents but contracted trench dysentery, which also gave rise to colitis. He had problems with digestion from then on. When he returned to New York he was too sick to attend Harvard so he waited until the following year. He completed a four-year chemistry program in just three years and he also graduated summa cum laude in 1925. He also studied eastern philosophy and physics at Harvard. He continued his post-graduate work in physics at the Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge. He didn’t do to well at Cambridge at first. It may have been to much stress from all the studying at Harvard. He saw a psychiatrist who said that he had dementia praecox, now discarded and thought to be something with symptoms like schizophrenia. He eventually took a vacation to Corsica. He and some friends hiked around the island. The break was just what he needed and it helped him to ‘heal’. He became a little more stable mentally. He had recovered from his depression. On his way back to Cambridge, he meet his first love, Katherine...