The J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee is dedicated to honoring the memory of Oppenheimer and his significant contributions to Los Alamos, the Nation and the World.

The J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee is a nonprofit organization that honors the intellectual and ethical legacy of the Scientific Director of the Manhattan Project. Since 1971 we have been sponsoring annual lectures in Los Alamos, New Mexico, by internationally significant speakers, providing academic scholarships to students from Los Alamos, Pojoaque, and Santa Fe high schools, and promoting science education in other ways in the community.

The JROMC membership of up to twenty-five community members maintains the five-decade traditions of the organization while moving forward with new activities such as our recent panel discussion on climate change. The Committee owns a bronze bust of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a significant archive of historic photographs and other documents. We worked for years to get Oppenheimer’s security clearance reinstated posthumously. We hope to return to in-person lectures as soon as public health conditions allow. 

We welcome your donations and participation.

49th Oppenheimer Memorial Lecture: Prof. Feryal Özel, August 12th, 2022

JROMC  is pleased to announce the resumption of its annual memorial free lecture series.

The 49th J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Lecture will feature Professor Feryal Özel on August 12th, 2022 beginning at 7:30 pm at Duane Smith Auditorium, Los Alamos, NM. 

Title: Black Holes: from Oppenheimer’s Ideas to the First Direct Images

Abstract: For a long time after Einstein’s formulation of the Theory of General Relativity, black holes were nothing but a mathematical curiosity. Even after Oppenheimer’s groundbreaking work, who demonstrated that black holes can be formed in the Universe through natural processes, many skeptics remained. In the intervening decades, astrophysicists collected a lot of circumstantial evidence, indicating that black holes do exist. In my presentation, I will discuss how the century-long quest culminated in the first-ever images of supermassive black holes with the Event Horizon Telescope. With these images, we can not only confirm their existence, but also perform unprecedented tests of the theory of General Relativity.

Speaker Biography: Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Feryal Özel received her B.S. in physics and applied mathematics at Columbia University and her Ph.D. in 2002 at Harvard University. After completing a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study, Özel joined the University of Arizona faculty in 2005, where she has worked as a professor of astronomy and physics, and as associate dean for research in the College of Science. Professor Özel is joining Georgia Tech as chair of the School of Physics, beginning August 2022.

She is co-investigator of the NASA Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) Mission and has twice earned the American Astronomical Society Bruno Rossi Prize (NICER and EHT collaborations), along with a number of honors including a joint Breakthrough Prize in Physics, and NSF Diamond Achievement Award.

In 2016, Özel was named a Guggenheim Fellow, as well as a visiting professor and member of the Harvard University Black Hole Initiative. In 2017 she was honored as the Columbia University Annual Bishop Lecturer. She has also served as a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellow at Harvard University and as a Miller Visiting Professor at University of California, Berkeley.

Özel is a member of the American Astronomical Society and an Elected Fellow of the American Physical Society. She is past chair of the NASA Astrophysics Advisory Committee and NASA Lynx X-ray Telescope Science and Technology Definition Team, and currently serves as an advisor of NANOGrav and the Miller Institute, as well as a member at Aspen Center for Physics.

The Life of an Extraordinary Man

J. Robert Oppenheimer was born in New York City on April 22, 1904, and died in Princeton, New Jersey, on February 18, 1967. He is remembered as a gifted teacher and inspiring leader, a dedicated theoretical physicist and above all a deeply compassionate, responsible and intelligent man.

Oppenheimer graduated from Harvard in 1925 and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Göttingen. In 1929 he accepted a joint appointment to the University of California at Berkeley and the California Institute of Technology. He was in the vanguard of research in the emerging field of quantum mechanics theory.

In the spring of 1942 Oppenheimer began work on the wartime atomic bomb project and came to Los Alamos, New Mexico, in early 1943 as the laboratory director. The success of that project was an awesome example of what can be accomplished by large collaborative scientific enterprises under skillful management.

In the postwar period Oppenheimer was prominent among those devoted to the task of attempting to devise an internationally acceptable plan for world-wide control of nuclear energy. From 1947 until his death he served as Director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and was responsible for bringing together outstanding scholars from many disciplines.

Oppenheimer is remembered not only for his exceptional achievements, but also for the extraordinary impact of his intellect and personality on the scientific community during and after World War II. His response to the personal ordeal of the much-publicized AEC Security Board hearings in 1954 and his equanimity in the face of death during the last months of his life attest further to his great courage and dignity.

The second laboratory director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, the late Norris Bradbury, commented upon Oppenheimer’s death, “His stamp upon the character of Los Alamos was profound and permanent; his impression upon those who knew him was no less so.”

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