Bohr, Heisenberg and the Atomic Bomb

Danuta Bukowska and Sylwia Maliszewska

The relationship between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg was irrevocably changed by the Second World War. Their story highlights the ethical complexities—and heavy burdens—that can come with being a scientist.


figure(Left) Niels Bohr, 1922. (Right) Werner Heisenberg, 1933.

Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg—perhaps in another time, theirs would have been one of the great scientific partnerships. Both brilliant minds, they were scientific contemporaries, fast friends, and, eventually, reluctant adversaries. When World War II broke out in Europe, the two found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict—and the race to build one of the most destructive weapons known to humankind.

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