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Max Friedman

PhysicistUniversity of California, Berkeley

Chicago, IL
Manhattan Project VeteranProject Worker/StaffScientist
Leconte Hall, University of California, Berkeley

Max Friedman was an American physicist.

One of J. Robert Oppenheimer‘s bright young pupils at the University of California, Berkeley during the 1930s, Friedman’s career as a physicist was derailed by his leftist politics.

After arriving at the Berkeley Radiological Laboratory from UCLA in 1942, Friedman quickly bonded with the other politically radical physicists studying under Oppenheimer, including David Bohm, Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz, and Joe Weinberg. The son of poor immigrants with left-wing views, his political leanings meshed well with Oppenheimer’s followers. 

While working at the Rad Lab, he became the chairman of the local chapter of the Federation of Architects, Engineers, Chemists, and Technicians (FAECT) labor union. This position, as well as his associations with suspected communists, would eventually cause him to be fired from his Rad Lab position. 

Thereafter he struggled to find work. Eventually, his friend Phil Morrison was able to secure him a wartime position at the University of Chicago Met Lab, but that would also prove to be short lived. After the war, Friedman changed his name to Ken Manfred and began teaching physics at the University of Puerto Rico. 

While on sabbatical from the University of Puerto Rico, Friedman pursued graduate studies in Chicago. During this time, he received a subpoena from the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). At his hearing he refused to make any testimony. He was one of a number of scientists who saw their American careers derailed due to run-ins with HUAC.

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