James Bryant Conant Quotes

The whole proceeding was little more than a kangaroo court.

 
Context
Robert Oppenheimer was the great physicist who directed the development of the atomic bomb in the Manhattan project of World War II. After the war his views opposed some powerful political interests and they organized hearings to deny him a security clearance so that he would not be able to as easily oppose the hard-line policies of the chairman. Conant was a scientist who was the liaison between the highest levels of government and the staff at Los Alamos who were developing the bomb. He had much more political savvy than most of the scientists, and served as a political advisor and ambassador for two Presidents. This infamous hearing was one of the lowest points of American history. It represented the worst schism between the scientists of America and the politicians. Later, to make amends, Oppenheimer received the Fermi prize from the President.
James Bryant Conant
James Bryant Conant
  • Born: March 26, 1893
  • Died: February 11, 1978
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Scientist

James Bryant Conant was an American chemist, a transformative President of Harvard University, and the first U.S. Ambassador to West Germany. Conant obtained a PhD in Chemistry from Harvard in 1916. During World War I he served in the U.S. Army, working on the development of poison gases. He became an assistant professor of chemistry at Harvard in 1919, and the Sheldon Emery Professor of Organic Chemistry in 1929. He researched the physical structures of natural products, particularly chlorophyll, and he was one of the first to explore the sometimes complex relationship between chemical equilibrium and the reaction rate of chemical processes. He studied the biochemistry of oxyhemoglobin providing insight into the disease methemoglobinemia, helped to explain the structure of chlorophyll, and contributed important insights that underlie modern theories of acid-base chemistry.