[EAS]Heisenberg and Bohr

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Thu Feb 7 23:00:54 EST 2002

Subject:   Heisenberg and Bohr

PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE                         
The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 576  February 7, 2002   by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein,
and James Riordon

WERNER HEISENBERG'S WARTIME VISIT to Niels Bohr, recently dramatized
in Michael Frayn's play "Copenhagen," has, sixty years after the
event, just taken a new turn.  In a letter made public yesterday for
the first time, Bohr accuses Heisenberg of misleading others, in the
aftermath of WW II, by claiming to have purposely undermined the
German atom bomb effort.  In the letter, composed around 1957, Bohr
claims that in his recollection of their encounter Heisenberg seemed
less ambivalent (and more knowledgeable) about building a bomb than
Heisenberg later implied.  This letter, now made public by the Niels
Bohr Archive in Denmark (www.nba.nbi.dk), was never sent and has since
Bohr's death in 1962 been sealed away, leaving physicists, historians,
and now artists to wonder about Heisenberg's motives.  Upcoming events
surrounding the play "Copenhagen" include a month of performances at
Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; a daylong symposium on March 2 at
the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
<http://web.gc.cuny.edu/ashp/nml/artsci>, including physicists,
historians, the President's science advisor John Marburger,
Heisenberg's son, and Bohr's grandson; and a session on the subject at
the April APS meeting in Albuquerque.

Other aspects of the past relating to the atomic bomb have had to be
revised by the NSA's release of the Venona files
<http://www.yale.edu/engineering/eng-info/msg00668.html>, with the
current NSA Venona homepage at <http://www.nsa.gov/docs/venona/>. A
google.com search on Venona will turn up much other interesting


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