AUTHORCassidy, David C.
TITLEA Historical Perspective on Copenhagen
PERIODICAL TITLEPhysics Today
DATE PUBLISHED2000
VOLUME NUMBER53
ISSUE NUMBER7 (July)
PAGE NUMBERS28-32
ISSN0031-9228


In this article, Heisenberg biographer David Cassidy discusses Michael Frayn’s award winning play Copenhagen and the 1941 meeting between physicists Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr upon which it is based. Cassidy believes that the play fails to take into account the larger historical setting of the meeting in trying to discover what occurred between the two men. The article attempts to supply that setting by examining Heisenberg’s attitudes and actions under Nazi rule, including his other meetings abroad as a representative of the German office for cultural propaganda, his nationalism, his belief that the good Germany would outlive the Nazi regime, and his service in the infantry reserves. Based on that information, Cassidy concludes that the physicist’s visit to Copenhagen was most likely an attempt to convince Bohr to prevent the Allies from creating an atomic bomb to be used on Germany.


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