Menu ☰

Back to Top

Physics History Network

Over 1000 biographies of physicists and histories of institutions with information pertaining to their lives, careers, and research.

Tip: Search within this page by using Ctrl + F or ⌘ + F


Search Our Catalogs

Archives Books

Collections

Emilio Segré Visual Archives Digital Collections Oral Histories Archival Finding Aids Physics History Network

Preservation and Support

Donating Materials Saving Archival Collections Grants to Archives Documentation Projects History Newsletters

Center for History of Physics

Scholarship & Outreach

Main Navigation

HomeAboutTopic GuidesFeedback

Table of Contents

Biography

AbstractImportant DatesOccupationPlacesSubjects

Relationships

PeopleInstitutions

Resources

Archival as AuthorArchival as SubjectPublished as Author

R. Serber

Photo

Dates

March 14, 1909 – June 1, 1997

Authorized Form of Name

Serber, R. (Robert)

Additional Forms of Names

Serber, R.

Serber, Robert, 1909-

Serber, Robert, 1909-1997

Biography

Abstract

Physicist (Nuclear physics). Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1934. University of California, Berkeley, 1934-38 and 1945-51; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1938-45; Manhattan Project, 1942-45; Columbia University, 1957-77; Emeritus Professor of physics, Columbia University 1977-1997.

Important Dates

March 14, 1909Birth, Philadelphia (Pa.).

1930Received B.S., Lehigh University, Bethleham (Pa.).

1934Received Ph.D. in physics on the optical properties of molecules, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison (Wis.).

1934 – 1938National Research Council (NRC) Fellow (1934-1946) and Research Associate (1936-1938), University of California, Berkeley.

1938 – 1945Assistant Professor and Associate Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Champaign (Ill.).

1942 – 1945Researcher, Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory (1942-1943); Diffusion Theory Group Leader, Los Alamos National Laboratory (1943-1945); and Special Consultant at Tinian Island (1945), Manhattan Project. In September 1945 Serber went to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to survey the damage caused by the bombs.

1945 – 1951Professor of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley (Calif.).

1946 – 1951Consultant, Douglas Aircraft Company.

August 5, 1948Hearing before the Personnel Security Board into his character, associations, and loyalty, which he ultimately passed. Serber's career was often delayed because of security clearance issues.

1951 – 1997Professor of Physics (1951-1977); Chair, Department of Physics (1975-1976); and Emeritus Professor of Physics (1977-1997), Columbia University, New York (N.Y.).

1952Member, National Academy of Sciences.

1967 – 1972Member, Advisory Committee, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

1971President, American Physical Society (APS).

1972Awarded J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize, University of Miami.

1974 – 1981Member, Board of Trustees, Associated Universities, Inc.

1978 – 1982Member, Advisory Committee, Meson Physics Facility, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

June 1, 1997Death, New York (N.Y.).

Occupation

Nuclear physicist.

Places

Birth

Philadelphia (Pa.)

Undergraduate Education

Bethleham (Pa.)

Graduate Education

Madison (Wis.)

Employment

Champaign (Ill.)

Berkeley (Calif.)

New York (N.Y.)

Death

New York (N.Y.)

Subjects

Atomic bomb -- Japan -- Blast effect.

Atomic bomb.

Cosmic rays.

Hydrogen bomb.

Magnetic susceptibility.

Magnetism.

Mesons.

Nuclear energy -- Political aspects.

Particle accelerators.

Physics -- Study and teaching.

World War, 1939-1945 -- Japan.

World War, 1939-1945.

Relationships

People

Family

Leof, Charlotte

First wife, married in 1933. Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Serber, David

Father.

Serber, Rose Frankel

Mother.

Serber, William

Son.

St. Clair, Fiona

Second wife, married in 1979.

Advisors & Collaborators

Brueckner, Keith A.

Advised by Serber at University of California, Berkeley.

Cooper, Leon N. (Leon Neil), 1930-

Advised by Serber at Columbia University.

Gell-Mann, Murray

Collaborated on the discovery of quarks.

Kerst, Donald William, 1911-1993

Collaborated on early development of the betatron. Both employed at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967

Co-wrote multiple articles. Both employed at University of California, Berkeley and Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Van Vleck, J. H. (John Hasbrouck), 1899-1980

Ph.D. advisor at University of Wisconsin on the optical properties of molecules.

Colleagues

Almy, Gerald Marks, 1904-

Both employed at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Alvarez, Luis W., 1911-1988

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley and Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Bethe, Hans A. (Hans Albrecht), 1906-2005

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Birch, Francis, 1903-1992

Both employed on Project Alberta, Manhattan Project.

Birge, Raymond T. (Raymond Thayer), 1887-

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Booth, Eugene

Both employed at Columbia University.

Bradbury, Norris, 1909-1997

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Breit, Gregory, 1899-1981

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Brillouin, Léon, 1889-1969

Both employed at Columbia University.

Brode, Robert B. (Robert Bigham), 1900-1986

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Case, Kenneth M.

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Chamberlain, O. (Owen)

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Chew, Geoffrey F.

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Christ, Norman

Both employed at Columbia University.

Christy, Robert F.

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Commins, Eugene D.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Compton, Arthur Holly, 1892-1962

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Cummins, Herman Z., 1933-

Both employed at Columbia University.

Davis, Bergen, 1869-1958

Both employed at Columbia University.

Devons, Samuel

Both employed at Columbia University.

Doan, Richard Lloyd, 1898-

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Dunning, John R. (John Ray), 1907-1975

Both employed at Columbia University.

Feinberg, Gerald, 1933-

Both employed at Columbia University.

Fermi, Enrico, 1901-1954

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project and Project Alberta, Manhattan Project.

Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Flanders, Donald

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Foley, Henry Michael, 1917-1982

Both employed at Columbia University.

Frankel, S., 1919-

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Friedman, Francis L. (Francis Lee), 1918-

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Frosch, Robert A. (Robert Alan), 1928-

Both employed at Columbia University.

Furry, W. H. (Wendell Hinkle), 1907-

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Glauber, Roy J., 1925-

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Goldberger, Marvin L.

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Goldhaber, Gerson

Both employed at Columbia University.

Goldhaber, Gertrude S. -1998

Both employed at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Goldhaber, Maurice, 1911-2011

Both employed at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Guth, Alan H.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Hahn, E. L. (Erwin Louis), 1921-

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Happer, William, 1939-

Both employed at Columbia University.

Haworth, Leland J. (Leland John), 1904-

Both employed at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Helmholz, August Carl, 1915-2003

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Henley, Ernest M.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Hilberry, Norman, 1899-

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Hirschfelder, Joseph Oakland, 1911-

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Hughes, Vernon W.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Javan, Ali, 1926-

Both employed at Columbia University.

Kahn, Steven Michael

Both employed at Columbia University.

Kinoshita, T. (Toichiro)

Both employed at Columbia University.

Konopinski, Emil Jan, 1911-

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Kraichnan, Robert H., 1928-2008

Both employed at Columbia University.

Kroll, Norman Myles, 1922-

Both employed at Columbia University.

Kusch, Polykarp, 1911-1993

Both employed at Columbia University.

Lamb, Willis E. (Willis Eugene), 1913-2008

Both employed at Columbia University.

Lawrence, Ernest Orlando, 1901-1958

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Lederman, Leon M.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Lee, T. D., 1926-

Both employed at Columbia University.

Livingston, M. Stanley (Milton Stanley)

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Loeb, Leonard B. (Leonard Benedict), 1891-

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Loomis, F. W. (Francis Wheeler), 1889-1976

Both employed at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Luttinger, Joaquin M.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Mandelstam, Stanley

Both employed at Columbia University.

McMillan, Edwin M. (Edwin Mattison), 1907-

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Metropolis, N. (Nicholas), 1915-

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Morrison, Philip

Both employed on Project Alberta, Manhattan Project and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Moyer, Burton J., 1912-1973

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Mulliken, Robert Sanderson

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Murray, Forest

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Nagamiya, S. (Shoji)

Both employed at Columbia University.

Nelson, Eldred C. (Eldred Carlyle), 1917-

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Nierenberg, William Aaron, 1919-2000

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Novick, Robert

Both employed at Columbia University.

Nygren, David R.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Ohlinger, Leo

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Panofsky, Wolfgang K. H. (Wolfgang Kurt Hermann), 1919-2007

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Parsons, William Sterling, 1901-1953

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory and on Project Alberta, Manhattan Project.

Pegram, George Braxton, 1876-1958

Both employed at Columbia University.

Peierls, Rudolf E. (Rudolf Ernst), 1907-1995

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Penney, William George Penney, Baron, 1909-1991

Both employed on Project Alberta, Manhattan Project.

Peoples, John, Jr.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Placzek, G. (George), 1905-1955

Both employed at Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Plass, Gilbert N.

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Press, Frank, 1924-

Both employed at Columbia University.

Rabi, I. I. (Isidor Isaac), 1898-1988

Both employed at Columbia University.

Rainwater, L. James (Leo James), 1917-1986

Both employed at Columbia University.

Ramsey, Norman, 1915-2011

Both employed on Project Alberta, Manhattan Project and at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Reynolds, John Hamilton, 1923-2000

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Ruderman, Malvin A.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Sachs, Allan M. (Allan Maxwell), 1921-1989

Both employed at Columbia University.

Samios, Nicholas P.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Schwartz, Melvin, 1932-2006

Both employed at Columbia University.

Sciulli, Frank J.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Segrè, Emilio

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Steinberger, J.

Both employed at Columbia University and University of California, Berkeley.

Steiner, Herbert M.

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Teller, Edward, 1908-2003

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory and Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Thomas, Llewellyn Hilleth, 1903-1992

Both employed at Columbia University.

Ting, S. C. C. (Samuel Chao-chung), 1936-

Both employed at Columbia University.

Townes, Charles H.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Waldman, Bernard, 1913-1986

Both employed on Project Alberta, Manhattan Project.

Watson, Kenneth M.

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Weinberg, Alvin Martin, 1915-2006

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Weinberg, Erick J.

Both employed at Columbia University.

Weinberg, Steven, 1933-

Both employed at Columbia University.

Weisskopf, Victor Frederick, 1908-2002

Both employed at the Los Alamos Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Wheeler, John Archibald, 1911-2008

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Wick, G. C. (Gian Carlo)

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University.

Wigner, Eugene Paul, 1902-1995

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Wilson, Robert R., 1914-2000

Both employed at Columbia University.

Wu, C. S. (Chien-shiung), 1912-1997

Both employed at Columbia University.

York, Herbert F. (Herbert Frank)

Both employed at University of California, Berkeley.

Young, Gale Jay

Both employed at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan Project.

Additional

Bloch, Felix, 1905-

Bohr, Niels, 1885-1962

Crease, Robert P.

Darrow, Karl K. (Karl Kelchner), 1891-

Feshbach, Herman

Fowler, William A.

Herb, R. G. (Raymond George), 1908-1996

Lauritsen, Charles Christian, 1892-1968

Mayer, Maria Goeppert, 1906-1972

Mottelson, Ben R.

Oppenheimer, Katherine P. (Katherine Puening), 1910?-1972

Oppenheimer, Katherine, 1944-

Peters, B. (Bernard), 1910-

Pines, David, 1924-

Piore, Emanuel Ruben, 1908-2000

Smith, Herbert W.

Tolman, Richard C. (Richard Chace), 1881-1948

Institutions

Major Positions

Columbia University. Department of Physics

Professor of Physics; Chair, Department of Physics; and Emeritus Professor of Physics.

Douglas Aircraft Company

Consultant.

Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory

Diffusion Theory Group Leader, Manhattan Project.

Manhattan Project (U.S.)

Researcher, Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory; Diffusion Theory Group Leader, Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Special Consultant, Tinian Island.

National Research Council (U.S.)

Fellow.

United States. Office of Scientific Research and Development. Metallurgical Laboratory

Researcher, Manhattan Project.

University of California, Berkeley. Department of Physics

National Research Council (NRC) Fellow; Research Associate; and Professor of Physics.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Department of Physics

Assistant Professor and Associate Professor.

Professional Activities & Affiliations

American Academy of Arts and Sciences

American Physical Society

President.

Associated Universities, Inc.

Member, Board of Trustees.

Brookhaven National Laboratory

California Institute of Technology. Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy

Explorers Club

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Member, Advisory Committee.

Lehigh University

Received BS.

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Member, Advisory Committee, Meson Physics Facility.

National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)

University of Chicago. Department of Physics

University of Wisconsin--Madison. Department of Physics

Received PhD in Physics (1934).

Resources

Archival Resources

Author

Joint ceremonial session of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers [sound recording], 1972 February 1.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Kip Thorne interviews conducted for his book "Black Holes and Time Warps," 1980-1989.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

1201 East California Blvd. (Mail Code 015A-74), Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

Manhattan Project videohistory collection [videorecording], 1987-1990.

Archives

Smithsonian Institution

Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507, 600 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024-2520, USA

Oppenheimer memorial session [sound recording] : American Physical Society Meeting, 1967 April 24.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Robert Serber, 1967 February 10.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Robert Serber, 1974 May 13.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Robert Serber, 1983 December 19.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Robert Serber, 1996 November 26.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Subject

Bernard Peters papers, 1947-1992.

Niels Bohr Archive

Blegdamsvej 17, Copenhagen, Denmark

Donald W. Kerst papers, 1937-1959.

University Archives

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

1408 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

F. W. Loomis papers, 1920-1976.

University Archives

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

1408 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

Fritz Rohrlich notes from the Pocono Conference on Physics, 1948.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

History of physics and educational topics [sound recording], 2012 April 1.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Keith Brueckner manuscript biography, 1986.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

LBL Office of the Director records of Edwin M. McMillan [microfilm], 1907-1991.

Archives and Records Office

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

One Cyclotron Road, Bldg. 69-107, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

LBL Office of the Director records of Edwin M. McMillan, 1907-1991.

Pacific Sierra Region

National Archives and Records Administration

1000 Commodore Drive, San Bruno, CA 94066, USA

Oral history interview with David Pines, 1981 April 13 and 16.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Emanuel Ruben Piore, 1977 March 7.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Emil Jan Konopinski, 1982.

Office of University Archives and Records Management

Indiana University

Bryan Hall 201, 107 South Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA

Oral history interview with Herbert F. York, 1975 September 9 and 1976 May 13.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Herbert F. York, 1975 September 9 and 1976 May 13.

The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA, 94720-6000, USA

Oral history interview with Herbert Smith, 1974 August 1.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Luis Alvarez, 1967 February 14 and 15.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Norman Ramsey, 1960 July 19 to August 4.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Wolfgang Kurt Hermann Panofsky, 1973 May 15 and 1974 March 6 and June 3.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Published Resources

Author

Meson theory lectures / R. Serber ; notes prepared by E.J. Kelly [and] G.A. Snow.

Oppenheimer / I. I. Rabi ... [et al. ]

Peace & war : reminiscences of a life on the frontiers of science / Robert Serber, with Robert P. Crease.

Serber says : about high energy processes and nuclear forces / R. Serber.

Serber says : about nuclear physics / Robert Serber.

The Los Alamos primer : the first lectures on how to build an atomic bomb / Robert Serber ; annotated by Robert Serber ; edited with an introduction by Richard Rhodes.