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Gregory Breit (*)

Gregory Breit (July 14, 1899 – September 11, 1981) was a Russian-born American physicist, professor at universities in New York, Wisconsin, Yale, and Buffalo. Together with Eugene Wigner he gave a description of particle resonant states, and with Edward Condon, he first described proton-proton dispersion. He is also credited with deriving the Breit equation. In 1921, he was Paul Ehrenfest's assistant in Leiden.

Breit was Associate Editor of the Physical Review four times (1927-1929, 1939-1941, 1954-1956, and 1961-1963).

In April 1940, he proposed to the National Research Council that American scientists observe a policy of self-censorship due to the possibility of their work being used for military purposes by enemy powers in World War II.

During the early stages of the war, Breit was chosen by Arthur Compton to supervise the early design of the first atomic bomb during an early phase in what would later become the Manhattan Project. Breit resigned his position in 1942, feeling that the work was going too slowly and that there had been security breaches on the project; his job went to Robert Oppenheimer, who was later appointed to scientific director of the entire project.


* Biographical Memoirs of Gregory Breit by McAllister Hull

Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics


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