Hans Bethe (1906 - 2005)
Hans Bethe was born on July 2, 1906 in Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine, Germany. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Munich in 1928, but fled the European Continent as the Nazis began their rise to power in the 1930s. He eventually settled in the United States, and began a post as professor of physics at Cornell University in 1935.
It was at Cornell that Bethe first became interested in investigating the source of solar energy, and came upon the process of fusion. His work in this area eventually led him to Los Alamos, where he served as the chief of the theoretical division for the Atomic Bomb Project.
At the end of the Second World War, Bethe worked, along with Edward Teller, on the development of the hydrogen bomb. He was a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee from 1956 - 1964, and in 1958 headed a presidential study of nuclear disarmament. He helped to negotiate the 1963 partial test ban treaty with the Soviet Union, and acted as an informal advisor to Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson.
In 1967 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. In his later years, Bethe became a passionate advocate against the international development of defensive nuclear systems. He retired from Cornell as a professor emeritus in 1975. He died on March 6, 2005 in Ithaca, New York.