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Fermi Prize: J. Robert Oppenheimer Named to Receive Annual AEC Award

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Science  12 Apr 1963:
Vol. 140, Issue 3563, pp. 161-163
DOI: 10.1126/science.140.3563.161


The White House announced last week that J. Robert Oppenheimer would be the recipient of the Atomic Energy Commission's 1963 Fermi prize. The prize, which is accompanied by a $50,000 award, is given for "especially meritorious contribution to the development, use or control of atomic energy," and, as such, is strictly a recognition of scientific merit. This fact cannot be overstated. Nevertheless, because of the bitter and emotional controversy that surrounded the removal of Oppenheimer's security clearance in 1954, the Oppenheimer case has come to symbolize the dark hour to which nonconformity and scientific integrity were subjected in the McCarthy era. Oppenheimer's selection for the award is thus widely regarded as an effort by the scientific community and the Kennedy administration to right a long-standing wrong. The following account is an appreciation of Oppenheimer, written especially for Science by his colleague, Hans Bethe, of Cornell University.