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OPPENHEIMER, J. ROBERT - Scarce Letter by Atomic Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to a Mathematician
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OPPENHEIMER, J. ROBERT - Scarce Letter by Atomic Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to a Mathematician

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OPPENHEIMER, J. ROBERT.(1904-1967). American theoretical physicist, best known for his involvement in developing the atomic bomb. TLS. (“Robert Oppenheimer”). 1p. 4to. Princeton, December 13, 1952. On Institute for Advanced Studies letterhead. To eminent American physicist JOAQUIN M. LUTTINGER (1923-1997).


Your good note with the unexpected news that the University might give you some money next term just came after I had written you the letter of appointment which I thought you might need in your dealings with them. If you think you can save us $500 or $1,000, and still make out all right, we will be very grateful, because we can always use the money. But do not let this in any way interfere with your really getting here…”


Known as the “father of the atomic bomb,” Oppenheimer was instrumental in many important scientific developments during the 20th century. He began his career as a physics professor, teaching at the California Institute of Technology and the University of California at Berkeley, where he cultivated several lasting relationships with distinguished scientists. Producing copious amounts of research, his contributions to the study of theoretical physics attracted the attention of the U.S. government. Faced with the knowledge of German intentions to split the atom and create the atomic bomb, Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Manhattan Project. In 1942, Oppenheimer was recruited to become the head of the project, and by the following year he had moved the project to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where he witnessed the first explosion of a nuclear weapon on July 16, 1945.


After the war, Oppenheimer became director of The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Overseeing numerous eminent scientists and scholars, Oppenheimer’s directorship fostered great strides in scientific research. In addition to his responsibilities at the Institute, Oppenheimer also served as chairman of the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission, a position that he used to voice his opposition to the further development of more powerful bombs. Provoked by his unpopular opinions, the House Un-American Activities Committee questioned Oppenheimer and accused him of having secret Communist ties. Oppenheimer’s wife, brother and many of his friends were active Communists, and as a result, his security clearance was revoked and he was removed as chairman of the General Advisory Committee.


After earning his PhD in physics from MIT in 1947, Luttinger was awarded a National Research Council Fellowship for 1948-1949. As such “Luttinger took advantage of a Swiss-American exchange fellowship to become the first American postdoc in Wolfgang Pauli’s group at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich after World War II. There, he demonstrated his brilliance in contributions… to the just-developed renormalized quantum electrodynamics. Especially noteworthy is his 1948 calculation of the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron, carried out independently of and approximately simultaneously with the calculation by Julian Schwinger,” (Joaquin M. Luttinger’s obituary in Journal of Statistical Physics). Among his many innovative theories is the Luttinger liquid model, which describes the interaction of electrons in a one-dimensional conductor. He is also known for Luttinger’s theorem, the Luttinger parameter and the Luttinger-Ward function. Over the course of his illustrious career, he was affiliated with Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study and was a physics professor at the University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and Rockefeller University.


Folded with light age toning along two edges. Some perforations and paper loss in the left margin. In very good condition. Archivally matted with a gravure of Yousuf Karsh’s famous portrait.


This autograph will be auctioned live on May 23, 2018. For more information and to place your bid click the "BID NOW!" button above.
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