Otto Robert Frisch

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Born in Vienna of Jewish parents, Otto Robert Frisch (1904-1979) studied physics, graduating in 1926, and worked in Berlin, Hamburg and London in the 1920s and 1930s. From 1934 until 1939 he worked in Copenhagen with Niels Bohr. While there, with his aunt Lise Meitner, he helped explain some puzzling behavior which Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann had found when various chemical compounds were bombarded with neutrons. This lead to the discovery of fission and the development of atomic physics, nuclear power and nuclear weapons. In 1939 he went to work in Birmingham, where with his colleague Rudolf Peierls he showed the feasibility of an atomic bomb. From there he went to Los Alamos where he worked on the Manhattan Project, which developed the first nuclear weapons.

On his return to the UK in 1945, Frisch was employed briefly at the then new Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell. After a few years there, he was offered the post of Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy at Cambridge University, a position he retained until his death in 1979. In Cambridge, a fellow of Trinity College, he pursued his research interests in the Cavendish Laboratory and helped develop scientific instrumentation. This led to the formation of
LaserScan Limited which designed, developed and manufactured a machine for measuring bubble chamber tracks. He also wrote several books on physics and many articles and papers.

Besides working as a physicist and designer of scientific devices, Frisch was a family man, having married in 1951, with a son and daughter. He had a deep love of classical music and was an avid pianist.

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