Decades after his passing in 1967, the enigmatic life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, renowned as “the father of the atomic bomb,” continues to captivate the world. With Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed biopic, “Oppenheimer,” shedding light on the creation of nuclear weaponry that shaped history, viewers are eager to delve into the depths of the theoretical physicist’s intriguing persona.
Cause of Death – Throat Cancer
On February 18, 1967, at the age of 62, Oppenheimer’s life came to a close in Princeton, New Jersey, due to throat cancer. A heavy smoker consuming five packs of cigarettes daily, his cancer diagnosis emerged in the early months of the preceding year.
The news of the passing of this iconic figure, whose pivotal role in the development of the atomic bomb shaped the course of World War II, was reported by The New York Times on February 19, 1967.
Family Life – Wife and Children
Oppenheimer’s personal life was as complex as his scientific achievements. In November 1940, he married Katherine “Kitty” Puening, a union that stirred controversy as Kitty was already in her third marriage.
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Their love story began at a party in 1939 when Kitty, a German-American botanist, fell for the brilliant physicist. Despite being married to her third husband at the time, she soon became pregnant with Oppenheimer’s child and filed for divorce. The couple tied the knot, and their son, Peter, was born. Later, in December 1944, the Oppenheimer welcomed their daughter, Katherine “Toni,” in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
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Oppenheimer’s groundbreaking contributions to nuclear physics were rooted in his remarkable academic journey. He attended the Ethical Culture Society School in New York before pursuing his undergraduate studies at Harvard in 1922.
Graduating summa cum laude in 1925, he honed his research skills alongside British physicist J.J. Thompson at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory in England. Subsequently, he obtained his Ph.D. at the age of 22 while studying under German-British physicist Max Born at the University of Göttingen in Germany.
As the world uncovers the extraordinary life of J. Robert Oppenheimer through “Oppenheimer,” we are reminded of the profound impact of his scientific genius and the intricate facets of his personal journey. The atomic bomb, a creation born from his brilliance, forever altered history, and his legacy continues to evoke curiosity and contemplation.
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