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A Prophet in Two Countries: The Life of F.E. Simon

170 pages3 hours


A Prophet in Two Countries: The Life of F.E. Simon is a biography of Franz Simon and his work in physical chemistry toward the development of nuclear energy. Born in a Jewish family in Berlin at the turn of the 20th century, at a time when Germany started repressing the Jews, Franz Simon becomes a doctor in physical chemistry and successfully conducts many scientific experiments. Germany restricts the Jews from obtaining some professions such as university professors, and though Simon successfully passes his “Habilitation and is allowed to give lectures and collect fees, he is not given an established university appointment. He gets a professorship at the Technische Hochschule in Breslau, but does not stay there for long.

Before the Nazis stepped-up their drive against Jewish emigration, Simon and his family leave for Oxford. In 1938, he becomes a British citizen. When World War II breaks, rumors spread that German refugees like Simon will face terrible punishment if Germany wins the war. This rumor only makes the German refugee-scientists more resolved in helping Britain produce the atomic bomb before Germany does. In 1940, he submits a report on Britain’s progress on nuclear energy. His method of gaseous diffusion is the most practicable and becomes the basis for many factories later on. His work on the diffusion project earns him the British C.B.E. award, which, for Simon, makes him a man, no longer without a nationality, but a proven British citizen. This biography will delight historians particularly those interested in the history of Jews in Germany and Britain.

This book will also attract general readers who are interested in the lives of great scientists

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