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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Francis L. Friedman was a theoretical physicist and group leader at the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory (“Met Lab”) during the Manhattan Project.

In 1942, Friedman joined the Met Lab as a group leader in theoretical physics. At the Met Lab, he did plutonium-based physics research. He worked at the Met Lab until 1946.

He was also one of seventy scientists to sign the Szilard Petition. Written by physicist Leo Szilard, the document petitioned the President to decide against dropping the atomic bomb on Japan.


Early Years

Francis Lee Friedman was born in New York City in 1919. At Harvard University, he received his bachelor’s degree in 1939 and his master’s degree in 1940. 

In 1941, he served as a graduate assistant at the University of Wisconsin and an assistant physicist at the National Bureau of Standards. 


Later Years

In 1946, he became a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Friedman also pursued his Ph.D. while there and received it in 1949. 

After earning his Ph.D., he began to teach at MIT. In 1958, he became a full-time professor at the university. Friedman was also engaged in research. His main research focuses were nuclear and theoretical physics and in cosmic-ray shower theory.

During this period, he also served as a consultant for the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). Additionally, Friedman participated in the State Department’s Troy Project, Project Lexington (nuclear-power flight), and Project Hartwell (undersea warfare).

Friedman helped organize and develop the Physical Science Study Committee at MIT (est. 1956). In 1960, he was appointed the Director of the Science Teaching Center at MIT. The center’s mission was to improve science teaching at the collegiate level. 

At the age of forty-three years old, Francis Lee Friedman died on August 4, 1962 in Boston, Massachusetts.

For more information about Francis L. Friedman, please see the following reference:

Francis L. Friedman's Timeline
1919 Born in New York City.
1939 Received his B.S. from Harvard University.
1940 Earned his M.A. from Harvard.
1941 Served as a graduate assistant at the University of Wisconsin.
1941 Worked as an assistant physicist at the National Bureau of Standards.
19421946 Worked as a theoretical physics group leader at the Met Lab.
1946 Became a research associate at MIT.
1949 Received his Ph.D. from MIT.
1949 Became a teacher at MIT.
1958 Promoted to a professor at MIT.
1960 Appointed Director of the Science Teaching Center at MIT.
1962 Aug 4th At the age of forty-three years old, died in Boston, MA.

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