J. Robert Oppenheimer Notes & Quotations

J. Robert Oppenheimer Notes & Quotations


Invited to go to Japan

Advised not to go


“I do not regret that I had something to do with the technical success of the atomic bomb. It’s isn’t that I don’t feel bad, it is that I don’t feel worse tonight than I did last night.”

Japanese Committee for Intellectual Exchange

December 2, 1963

Fermi Award

President Lyndon Johnson

LBJ called it “one of President Kennedy’s most important acts”

Citation, medal, $50,000

“I think it is just possible, Mr. President, that it has taken some charity and some courage for you to make this award today. That would seem to me a good augury for all our futures.”

Afterwards, at reception, actually shook hands with Teller

“Up to now and even more in the days of my almost infinitely prolonged adolescence, I hardly took any action, hardly did anything, or failed to do anything, whether it was a paper on physics, or a lecture, or how I read a book, how I talked to a friend, how I loved, that did not arouse in me a very great sense of revulsion and of wrong.”

“It turned out to be impossible. . . for me to live with anybody else, without understanding that what I saw was only one part of the truth. . . and in an attempt to break out and be a reasonable man, I had to realize that my own worries about what I did were valid and were important, but that they were not the whole story, that there must be a complementary way of looking at them, because other people did not see them as I did. And I needed what they saw, needed them.”

Honorary degree at Princeton: citation: “physicist and sailor, philosopher and horseman, linguist and cook, lover of fine wine and better poetry.”

The Month-Long Hearing:

A: the problem of the differential between security clearances for the prosecution and the defense

B: adversarial nature of the hearing when it was supposed to be an investigation

C: wire-tapping of Oppie, including in conversations with his lawyers

D: Robb had access to reams of information that had not been made available to RO’s team (Garrison)

E: the clouding of the standards differential between 1939 and 1954

F: the pre-judging of the case

“If atomic bombs are to be added to the arsenals of a warring world, or to the arsenals of nations preparing for war, then the time will come when mankind will curse the name of Los Alamos and Hiroshima.

“The peoples of this world must unite, or they will perish. This war, that has ravaged so much of the earth, has written these words. The atomic bomb has spelled them out for all men to understand. Other men have spoken them, in other times, in other wars, or other weapons. They have not prevailed.

“There are some, misled by a false sense of human history, who hold that they will not prevail today. It is not for us to believe that. By our works we are committed, committed to a world united, before this common peril, in law and in humanity.”

October 16, 1945

Los Alamo