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Cornell to celebrate the life of Hans Bethe

He was one of Cornell University's most beloved and esteemed scientists -- a man lauded both for his intellectual brilliance and his dedication to creating a more peaceful world.

Next week, the Cornell community and distinguished visitors will gather to remember Hans Bethe. The free and open event, on Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. in the Statler Auditorium, will include appreciations from some of Bethe's closest colleagues, friends and protégés. It will be followed by a reception in the Statler Ballroom.

Bethe, who came to Cornell in 1935 when Hitler's racial laws barred him from his teaching position in Germany, was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1967 for explaining the process that powers the stars. Appointed chief of the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Theoretical Division in 1942, he was a key figure in the Manhattan Project, helping to build and successfully test the first nuclear weapon. In the years that followed, he was a dedicated advocate of peace and nuclear nonproliferation.

Bethe's scientific work led to the creation of the field of quantum electrodynamics. His activism contributed to the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty. "His was a rich life, nobly and generously lived," said Cornell President Emeritus Frank H.T. Rhodes. "I don't know how you do justice to all the greatness that is Hans Bethe."

Speakers at the event will include Cornell astrophysicist Edwin Salpeter, Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson and IBM physicist Richard Garwin.


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