Victor F. Weisskopf

Victor_WeisskopftVictor Frederick Weisskopf (September 19, 1908 – April 22, 2002) was an Austrian born Jewish American theoretical physicist. He did postdoctoral work with Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Wolfgang Pauli and Niels Bohr. During World War II he worked at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb, and later campaigned against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Weisskopf earned his doctorate in physics at the University of Göttingen in Germany in 1931.  In the 1930s and 1940s, Weisskopf made major contributions to the development of quantum theory, especially in the area of Quantum Electrodynamics. After World War II, Weisskopf joined the physics faculty at MIT.

Weisskopf was a co-founder and board member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He served as director-general of European Organization for Nuclear Research  (CERN) from 1961-1966.

In addition to the William Procter Prize, Weisskopf was awarded the Max Planck medal in 1956 and the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca in 1972, National Medal of Science (1980), and Wolf Prize (1981).

Weisskopf was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was president of the American Physical Society in 1960-61 and president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences from 1976 to 1979.  He was appointed by Pope Paul VI to the 70-member Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1975, and in 1981 he led a team of four scientists sent by Pope John Paul II to talk to President Ronald Reagan about the need to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons.