NBA History of Science Seminar

Paul Lawrence Rose, "Heisenberg, the Atomic Bomb and German Culture."

This seminar discusses some of the technical and historical issues arising from Heisenberg's life, in particular his work on the German atomic project under the Nazi regime. Heisenberg's misconceptions of the atom bomb are described. In addition, less tangible problems are considered.

Paul Lawrence Rose, Mitrani Professor of Jewish Studies and European History, The Pennsylvania State University at University Park

How far did German cultural and behavioural patterns before 1945 contribute to Heisenberg's remaining in Germany and his participation in the bomb project - and to the various versions of his activity that he ventured after 1945? Various methodological suggestions are offered as to the respective roles played by personal character and national cultural contexts in the shaping of behaviour during the Third Reich. The problem of moral clarity is also discussed.

The talk is based on Rose's much-discussed book, Heisenberg and the Nazi Atomic Bomb Project: A Study in German Culture (Berkeley, etc.: University of California Press, 1998), which can be consulted at the Niels Bohr Archive by appointment.