Ralph Lapp was an American physicist.
He was born in Buffalo, New York in 1917. He was completing his PhD at the University of Chicago when he stumbled upon Enrico Fermi’s team working under Stagg’s Field in December of 1942, and was hired on the spot to work on the development of the atomic bomb. He signed the Szilard Petition, which urged the President to demonstrate the bomb instead of dropping it on a Japanese city.
After the war, he witnessed the Operations Crossroads nuclear test at Bikini Atoll. He joined the War Department and served as a scientific advisor there before leaving the government to start his own firm. Lapp went on to write several books and advocate for peaceful uses of nuclear energy. He also coined the term “China syndrome.”