Hans Albrecht Bethe (July 2, 1906 – March 6, 2005) was a German and American nuclear physicist. Born in Strasbourg, Hans Bethe demonstrated an early genius in math.
He studied physics at the University of Frankfurt in 1924. He discovered that he had little facility for experimental physics, but Bethe’s interest in mathematics drove him to take up theoretical physics.
In 1926, he left Frankfurt to study under Arnold Sommerfeld, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Munich.
He received PhD in 1928 from the University of Munch and he did post-doctoral work at Cambridge and at Enrico Fermi’s laboratory in Rome.
He emigrated to England in 1933 and in 1935, Bethe moved to the United States, where he joined the Cornell University faculty. For most of his career, Bethe was a professor at Cornell University.
In 1943, spurred by fears that Nazi Germany was building a nuclear weapon, he accepted J. Robert Oppenheimer’s request to move to Los Alamos and head the theoretical division.
Bethe was Nobel laureate in Physics for his work on the theory of stellar nucleo-synthesis. His identification of two thermonuclear reaction chains as the power source of main-sequence stars was a decisive turning point in research on stellar structure and evolution.
Bethe’s work in theoretical nuclear physics explained how stars converted mass to energy and broadened the scientific understanding of subatomic events.
Hans Albrecht Bethe
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