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Sir Francis Simon

Born 2 July 1893(1893-07-02)
Berlin, Germany
Died 31 October 1956 (aged 63)
Oxford, UK
Residence Germany, UK
Nationality German-British
Fields Physicist
Institutions University of Oxford
Alma mater University of Berlin
Doctoral advisor Walther Nernst
Doctoral students Kurt Mendelssohn
Brebis Bleaney
Known for Uranium-235
He is the first cousin of Kurt Mendelssohn.

Sir Francis Simon, born Franz Eugen Simon (2 July 1893 – 31 October 1956), was a German and later British physical chemist and physicist who devised the method, and confirmed its feasibility, of separating the isotope Uranium-235 and thus made a major contribution to the creation of the atomic bomb.


Early life

He was born to a Jewish family in Berlin and won the Iron Cross First Class during World War I. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Berlin, working in the research group of Walther Nernst on low-temperature physics related to the Nernst Heat Theorem (Third law of thermodynamics). The rise of anti-Semitic fascism in Germany in the 1930s caused him to emigrate to the UK, where he started using the assimilated name "Francis".


He was invited by Frederick Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell to join the Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford in 1933. He became reader in thermodynamics in 1936.

He performed pioneering work in low temperature physics, in particular in solidifying helium. He was commissioned by the MAUD Committee to investigate the feasibility of separating uranium-235 by gaseous diffusion in 1940 which was done with his collaborator, Nicholas Kurti. This technology was transferred to the Manhattan Project.

He became a professor at Oxford University and a Student of Christ Church, Oxford in 1945. He became Dr. Lee's Professor of Experimental Philosophy and head of the Clarendon Laboratory in 1956, one month before his death.


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