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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

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.”

Ralph Lapp's Timeline
1917 Aug 24th Born in Buffalo, NY.
19421946 Worked on the Manhattan Project at the Chicago Met Lab.
1945 Signed the Szilard Petition urging the bomb be demonstrated instead of used on Japan.
1946 Received PhD in physics from the University of Chicago.
1949 Joined the Office of Naval Research as head of the nuclear physics branch
1950 Created consulting firm Nuclear Science Services.
2004 Sep 7th Died in Alexandria, VA.

Statement on Nuclear Fallout.

Chronology of Nuclear Testing, 1 of 2.

Chronology of Nuclear Testing, 2 of 2.

Newspaper article featuring Lapp.

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