Why did the Germans, the most advanced scientific nation, fail to build a nuclear bomb during the War? In late 1938 a Berlin scientist, Otto Hahn, discovered nuclear fission. Werner Heisenberg, the chief scientist of Germany’s wartime nuclear project, pioneered quantum mechanics and won the Nobel Prize. When the Nazis came to power in 1933 Heisenberg friends begged him to leave Germany, knowing he would be asked to work on nuclear research for Hitler but he refused. The focus of the story is a famous meeting in Copenhagen in 1941 between Niels Bohr and Heisenberg …
Germans are known for their high standards and attention to detail. From early progress in the link between smoking and cancer, to triumphs in aviation – their scientists have been among the greatest in the world. This four-part series examines the effect Hitler’s Nazi regime had on the scientific progress in the country – from world leaders to crumbled ruins.Science And The Swastika investigates how biology, medicine, physics and aviation fared during the Thousand Year Reich. An uncomfortable truth emerges – while some scientific work was carried out to morally repugnant ends, many German scientists actually did ‘good science’, rigorously conducted in a dispassionate and rational way. This troubling legacy demands that we continue to question our understanding of science and the moral responsibilities of scientists.
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