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Victor Weisskopf

Victor Frederick Weisskopf in the 1940s.
Born September 19, 1908(1908-09-19)
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died April 22, 2002 (aged 93)
Newton, Massachusetts
Residence Austria, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, United States
Nationality Austria, United States
Fields Physicist
Institutions University of Leipzig
University of Berlin
ETH Zurich
Bohr Institute
University of Rochester
Manhattan Project
Alma mater University of Göttingen
Doctoral advisor Max Born
Eugene Wigner
Doctoral students Kerson Huang
J. David Jackson
Murray Gell-Mann
Notable awards Wolf Prize (1981)
Weisskopf redirects here. For people known under English version of that name, see Whitehead.

Victor 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[1]. 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 was born in Vienna and earned his doctorate in physics at the University of Göttingen in Germany in 1931.

After World War II, Weisskopf joined the physics faculty at MIT, ultimately becoming head of the department.

Weisskopf was a co-founder and board member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He served as director-general of CERN from 1961-1966.

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.

He married Ellen Tvede. He was survived at death by his second wife Duscha.



Human existence is based upon two pillars: Compassion and knowledge. Compassion without knowledge is ineffective; knowledge without compassion is inhuman.
Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution.


  • Weisskopf, Victor; J. M. Blatt (1952). Theoretical Nuclear Physics. New York: John Wiley. 
  • Weisskopf, Victor (1963). Knowledge and Wonder: The Natural World as Man Knows It. New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday & Co. (Science Study Series S31). 
  • Weisskopf, Victor (1972). Physics in the Twentieth Century: Selected Essays. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. 
  • Weisskopf, Victor; Kurt Gottfried (1984). Concepts of Particle Physics, vol. 1. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • Weisskopf, Victor; Kurt Gottfried (1986). Concepts of Particle Physics, vol. 2. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • Weisskopf, Victor (1989). The Privilege of Being a Physicist. Essays.. New York: W. H. Freeman. 
  • Weisskopf, Victor (1991). The Joy of Insight: Passions of a Physicist. New York: Basic Books. 


  1. ^ Obituary of Victor Weisskopf from the MIT News Office


  • V. Stefan (Editor). PHYSICS and SOCIETY. Essays in Honor of Victor Frederick Weisskopf by the International Community of Physicists. ISBN 1-56396-386-8

External links


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