Physics professor's presentation going beyond 'Oppenheimer' to address WWII nuclear weapons research

With film in Oscars spotlight, Alan Scott will examine other scientists on both sides of war involved in bomb development
​Jerry Poling | March 5, 2024

World War II was fought in laboratories as well as land, sea and air, according to Alan Scott, a physics professor at UW-Stout.

The historic development of the atomic bomb has been in the spotlight with a new film about the life of lead scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer. “Oppenheimer” has been nominated for 13 Academy Awards, or Oscars, which will be announced Sunday, March 10.

The University of Chicago team that worked on the Chicago Pile-1, the first nuclear reactor, included in the front row Enrico Fermi, left, and Walter Zinn, second from left; and in the second row Harold Agnew, left, Leona Woods, second from right, and Leo Szilard, right. / Los Alamos National Laboratory photo
The University of Chicago team that worked on the Chicago Pile-1, the first nuclear reactor. See full caption below.. / Los Alamos National Laboratory

From 5 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, in Jarvis Hall Science Wing room 114, Scott will present “Ethics and Perspectives of Scientists Involved in WWII.” The event is free and open to the public.

Connecting themes of the movie to the presentation, Scott will highlight the circumstances, ethics and motivations of the physicists other than Oppenheimer from both sides of the war.

“German scientists first discovered nuclear fission and were working on an atomic bomb. The prospect of Germany being first to construct such a bomb, if feasible, frightened the Allied scientists and leaders,” Scott said.

Scott has bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in physics.

The event is sponsored by UW-Stout’s Center for Applied Ethics.

To learn more about UW-Stout arts and humanities events scheduled this spring, go here.

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Photo caption

The University of Chicago team that worked on the Chicago Pile-1, the first nuclear reactor, included in the front row Enrico Fermi, left, and Walter Zinn, second from left; and in the second row Harold Agnew, left, Leona Woods, second from right, and Leo Szilard, right. / Los Alamos National Laboratory photo


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